Park City area split between congressional districts, profoundly altering political landscape
There is concern political influence will be diluted under the map approved by Legislature
Temple Har Shalom, on one side of S.R. 224 along the Park City entryway, remained in the 1st Congressional District in the redrawn boundaries recently approved by state leaders.
But St. Mary’s Catholic Church, essentially directly across the state highway from the synagogue, was put in the 3rd Congressional District.
Although the two are religious institutions rather than political ones, their locations on the edges of two newly redrawn congressional districts illustrate how dramatically the map approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Spencer Cox impacts the Park City area and wider Summit County.
The new districts carve up Summit County in a way that will profoundly alter the local political landscape. It is unclear when Summit County was last split so fundamentally, if ever, on the congressional level. It has been decades, at least.
The map that was approved keeps some of Summit County in the 1st Congressional District, now represented by Republican Rep. Blake Moore. The Snyderville Basin, roughly north of the Park City limits, remains in the 1st Congressional District. Other parts of Summit County that remain in that district cover North Summit communities like Coalville and Henefer. The 1st Congressional District is centered in the northern Utah population centers of Ogden, Logan and sections of Salt Lake City.
Other parts of Summit County, including Park City, were shifted into the 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by Republican Rep. John Curtis. That district also includes South Summit locales like Kamas and Oakley. The 3rd Congressional District covers a large tract of Utah stretching to the Colorado border on the east and the Four Corners in the southeast.
Park City was last in the 3rd Congressional District when the new district maps were drawn after the 1990 census.
Leaders in the Park City area and surrounding Summit County over the years have generally considered it best for the county to be included in a single district rather than split between two. Regardless of partisan politics, the thinking has been that Park City, Summit County and the other cities in the county hold more influence if they are within the same district.
Local voters also have more influence within a single district since they represent a larger bloc than they would if they are split between two. In the case of Summit County, one of Utah’s most reliably Democratic places, the local votes received by candidates of the minority party will be split between those campaigning in two districts under the new map.
The redrawn map will be used for the first time in the 2022 congressional election. The members of the House of Representatives now in office will complete their current terms in the districts as drawn a decade ago. They would then choose whether to seek election in the redrawn districts for terms starting in early 2023.
Moore, a freshman congressman who succeeded longtime Rep. Rob Bishop in the 1st Congressional District, has had a visible presence in the Park City area during his first year in office. It has appeared that Moore has wanted to nurture a solid relationship with the Park City area even with the divergent political leanings.
The Legislature’s decision to split Summit County between two congressional districts drew condemnation from the chair of the Summit County Council. Glenn Wright, a Democrat, said in an interview the redrawn congressional map “completely ignored all the requests from Summit County.” He said Summit County leadership wanted the county to be contained within one district.
“I didn’t think Summit County could be treated any worse than the redistricting 10 years ago,” he said.
Wright said he did not contemplate prior to the redistricting process that Summit County would be split between two districts. He said the redrawn map “dilutes any influence the county has on the congressional delegation.”
“We’re an even smaller part,” he said about Summit County’s proportion to the redrawn districts, adding, “They can easily ignore us.”
Park City Mayor-elect Nann Worel said she received a call from Curtis on Friday. She said it was a “very encouraging” discussion as she said the congressman is learning about Park City issues. She noted Curtis is a former mayor of Provo and they discussed the role of a mayor.
“He’s reaching out early,” she said.
There are around 25,400 registered voters in the county yet just about 7,800, or 30%, cast a ballot as of the latest count on Wednesday afternoon. It’s expected to be the lowest turnout Summit County has had in at least seven years, according to general election results dating back to 2016.
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