Districts could tear county into two
November 25, 2006
Summit County would be split between two congressional districts in two of three plans under consideration should Utah be awarded a fourth seat in the House of Representatives.
Utah leaders are mulling the plans as Congress prepares to decide whether to expand the House with a voting seat for the District of Columbia and fourth district in Utah, which narrowly missed securing a fourth seat based on its population in the 2000 census.
The three favored plans, which will be presented during a Tuesday hearing at Miners Hospital by the Statehouse’s redistricting committee, greatly differ in the congressional boundaries. Each of them contemplates Summit County, which is now wholly in District 1, leaving Republican Rob Bishop’s district.
The plans are:
( Plan ‘A,’ which has already been endorsed by the Legislature and former Gov. Mike Leavitt. In the Plan ‘A’ scenario, Summit County is entirely within District 3, now represented by Chris Cannon, a Republican. Before the congressional lines were changed after the 2000 census, Summit County was in District 3.
( Plan ‘I,’ which splits Summit County between District 3 and District 2. Democrat Jim Matheson now represents District 2.
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Under Plan ‘I,’ Park City, the Snyderville Basin south of Interstate 80 and the East Side cities of Oakley, Kamas, Woodland and Francis would be in District 3. Also in District 3 would be a small area on the northeast corner of the Interstate 80-U.S. 40 intersection.
District 2 under the scenario would include the rest of the Snyderville Basin, Summit Park, Coalville and Henefer.
( Plan ‘J,’ which also would slice Summit County between District 2 and District 3. Under the plan, District 2 would include Park City, Summit Park south of Interstate 80 and a small tract of Summit Park north of Interstate 80. District 3 would include the rest of Summit Park, the Snyderville Basin and the East Side of Summit County.
A Statehouse analyst assigned to the redistricting committee expects that detailed maps showing the boundaries, which were not available at the end of the week, will be on display at the Tuesday hearing.
"I don’t have any preconceived notion. That’s why we’re coming to Park City," Sen. Curt Bramble, a Republican from Provo who is the co-chair of the redistricting committee, says about his expectation of the Park City hearing.
The hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The committee is scheduled to discuss the plans for a fourth district and take testimony from the public. The meeting is planned for the second floor.
When the Statehouse drew new congressional lines after the 2000 census, there was some interest in Summit County but local observers were more occupied with the debate about remaking the Statehouse districts.
There was a hope then that Summit County, with a population almost equal to that of a state House of Representatives district, would be put into one district. Instead the county was divided between District 53 and District 25, both of which stretch well outside of Summit County.
Park City has especially been interested in the area’s congressional representative and has tried to work closely with Bishop and, before being shifted into District 1 after the census, Cannon. Transportation, waterworks funding and federal land in the city have been important to Park City officials.
Republican congressional candidates running in the local district typically have weaker showings in Park City and the Basin than they do in other parts of the district, where they normally easily beat the Democrats and third-party candidates.
Dana Williams, the Park City mayor, says it is difficult to handicap the testimony of the upcoming hearing. He says, though, that he prefers that Summit County be kept in the same district instead of being split between two.
"For me, I’m more concerned about keeping Summit County whole than I am the partisanship," he says. "We are one community with a diverse amount of group think."