Redistricting to hit Park City
July 22, 2011
The Utah Redistricting Committee will hold its last redistricting public hearing on Tuesday at Park City High School.
According to Henry Glasheen, Chair of the Summit County Republican Party, and Glenn Wright, Chair of the Summit County Democratic Party, residents have reason to be concerned about potential redistricting options.
"For the House and the Senate, there is a highly likely proposal that Summit County will be split into three different districts instead of the current two," said Glasheen. "The challenge in having three Senate and House seats would be a logistic nightmare."
"Summit County’s biggest concern is being split into three instead of two," said Wright. "People should be outraged about this. The likelihood of someone from Summit County getting elected will be greatly diluted and no one will be held accountable to our county," he added.
The committee will also be redrawing the state’s Congressional districts to make room for a new representative. Based on the 2010 Census, Utah merits a fourth district and the big question is whether to draw a line around Salt Lake City to create one cohesive urban district or to divide the city into quarters paired with equal portions of the surrounding rural areas.
Summit County currently falls into District 1 which is represented in Congress by Rob Bishop, R- Brigham City.
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The redistricting committee has already held 15 public hearings, beginning in Southern Utah in May. The meetings have allowed residents to preview proposed maps and give the committee input.
"It is really important for Summit County residents to get out there and make their voices heard, it is the only thing these guys understand," said Wright. "Splitting Summit County up like this is legislative abuse."
According to Glasheen, one of the biggest threats to Summit County in being split up into three different House districts is the potential for losing the current funds for the Park City School District.
"We are getting attacked on four fronts for our school funds. For the most part, there isn’t much major legislation that really affects Summit County, but the issue of our schools and the redistribution of funds from the Park City School District is a huge issue," said Glasheen. "If we are split into three House districts then we will loose clout for our school district and funds could go other places."
Wright’s concern is that redistricting lines are being drawn to protect the incumbents, not the area’s best interests. "Ideally, Summit County would be in one House and one Senate district. The odds of Summit County being in one House district aren’t high, but we could easily fit into one Senate district. If we are to be divided, an East/West divide makes the most sense."
Currently, Summit County is part of House District 25, represented by Joel Briscoe (D), Salt Lake City, and District 53, represented by Mel Brown, (R), Coalville. For the Senate, Summit County is currently in District 19, represented by Allen Christensen (R), North Ogden, and District 26, represented by Kevin Van Tassell (R), Vernal.
While Glasheen doesn’t think blatant gerrymandering is taking place, Wright said not only is it occurring, but on purpose, just to protect the favored incumbents.
"Not only do residents need to attend the public hearing, but keep the pressure on the Legislature for the next two months before the vote on the redistricting map," said Wright. "Residents need to get informed and come voice their opinion we have been complaining about the last redistricting for the past 10 years."
"They are coming here last so we need to get out there and make our voices heard" said Glasheen. "It will last for the next 10 years; people who aren’t paying attention aren’t going to realize the major impacts this has."
The Utah Redistricting public hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 26, at 6 p.m. at the Park City High School Lecture Hall. 1750 Kearns Boulevard, Park City, Utah.
To view the proposed maps and learn more about the redistricting options go to http://www.redistrictutah.com