Proposed congressional district would increase Park City’s presence in D.C.
If a proposal to add a fourth congressional district in Utah is approved and if the boundaries of that district are the same as those put forth by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. this week, Summit County could have better representation in Washington than it does at the state capitol. Call us hopelessly optimistic, but we are all for it.
As proposed, Summit County would be shifted into Congressman Jim Matheson’s newly redrawn District 2. In fact, Summit County and north Salt Lake County, including the historically Democratic East Bench area of Salt Lake City, would dominate the district.
These days Summit County falls in District 1 and shares a congressman — but not much else — with Box Elder, Tooele, Juab, Cache, Rich, Weber and Morgan counties. When it comes to Election Day, Summit County historically is on the losing team. In 2004 and 2002 Summit County voters sided with the Democratic candidates for District 1 but were outnumbered by their rural and more conservative neighbors.
In the meantime, Matheson, Utah’s lone Democrat in Washington, D.C., has had an uphill battle maintaining his seat. With constituents from Salt Lake City to Kane County, the district is somewhat schizophrenic and Matheson has had to tiptoe through a minefield of controversial issues especially recently with Democrats and Republicans drawing sharper battle lines.
The proposed new District 2, though, has the potential to consolidate the state’s Democratic strongholds western Summit County and eastern Salt Lake — and Republicans are using that fact as a selling point to help secure the state’s fourth seat.
It is just the reverse of the kind of redistricting that Summit County was subjected to a few years ago when, instead of keeping the county intact, it was split up between Statehouse representatives in a blatant example of gerrymandering to the Republicans’ advantage.
Which puts a little damper on the excitement of increasing Utah’s presence in Congress. While the new District 2 could eventually put a Parkite in Washington, D.C., what would prevent the Republicans from re-rigging the system as soon as the seat is approved?
Partisanship aside, Utahns of every political stripe would benefit from increased representation at the nation’s capital. As the world becomes increasingly intertwined economically and politically, the decisions made by our congressional leaders will have more and more of an impact on every citizen. If the current draft of House Resolution 5388 is approved by Congress, Summit County residents would have a strong voice in this vitally important national forum.
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Skier, mountaineer, environmental activist and Park City resident Caroline Gleich writes that Andy Beerman’s commitment to the climate is vital to Park City’s future.