Another representative means more representation for Utah citizens
The Utah Legislature is meeting in a special session Monday to draw new congressional district boundaries in the hope that politicians in Washington, D.C., will grant Utah a fourth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Though there has been political wrangling over just where to draw the lines, overall, the politicians recognize that coming to a consensus at home is the only way to get the deal done in Washington.
This rare opportunity to gain another seat at the federal table is due, in part, to evidence from the 2000 census that Utah’s growing population warrants additional representation. But the real impetus for making the change comes from the District of Columbia, which is fervently lobbying for its very first representative.
As decreed by the Founding Fathers, the nation’s capital was excluded from representation in Congress, but now, with a teeming population of more than 600,000 residents, the district has certainly earned the right to fair representation.
Residents there, however, realized that their hope for a say in how the country is run would face a tough partisan battle without some guarantee that adding a member from a predominantly Democratic area would not upset the razor-thin balance in Congress.
Utah happened to be next in line for another representative based on population, and it so happens that adding a seat in mostly-Republican Utah would likely neutralize any advantage the Democrats might gain by adding a member from D.C., a deal both sides of the aisle might be able to live with.
State legislators are prepped to do their part on Monday. This week they appeared to be leaning toward a map that would put the western part of Summit County, including Park City and the Snyderville Basin, into Scott Matheson’s District 2.
Since the western side of Summit Country usually bucks the voting trends in the rest of Republican Congressman Rob Bishop’s district, that would give local residents a representative who is more likely to understand their needs.
If adopted, the new congressional districts would temporarily increase the number of representatives in the House from 435 to 437. After the 2010 census, however, Congress will need to redraw the boundaries once again to reduce the House to 435 members as defined in the Constitution.
This then is a unique opportunity for Utah to increase its voice on the national level and regardless of the specific district boundaries adopted by state legislators, citizens should encourage their congressmen to approve it.
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“Where will we get the water, sewage treatment, police, fire, city services, broadband capacity and green power? How will we stop the gridlock that will result from all this expansion?” asks Victor Janulaitis.