Others have drawn congressional maps that would center new districts in Utah County, Salt Lake City or even Davis and Weber counties. So Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, is countering with one that would put Taylorsville and West Valley City at the center of a district.
"I wasn't saying that Taylorsville should be the center of the universe. But I did want to emphasize that the west side of the county does have a significant population base," he said on Friday about the new map he posted to the Redistricting Committee's website, RedistrictUtah.com.
Waddoups' latest map would form three urban House districts along a "doughnut hole" stretch of the Wasatch Front, surrounded by one vast, rural "doughnut" district. He says he does not actually favor creating a rural "doughnut" district, but wanted to put on the table a version of the increasingly debated idea that would create a west-side-centered district.
"When you read all of the letters that we're getting from the west-side mayors, they are saying that we deserve to have our representation," Waddoups said. "If I'm their senator and I am representing those people, I better at least have an option out there that shows some of that. ... I thought it better at least be out there so other people can discuss it."
His map would create one district composed of all the west-side areas of West Valley City, Taylorsville, Kearns, Magna, Copperton, West Jordan, South Jordan, Riverton, Herriman and Bluffdale. Added to them would be Murray, Holladay and Millcreek.
In a separate district, Waddoups' map would keep all of Salt Lake City together and add it to urban areas of Davis and Weber counties. A third urban district would be formed by combining urban areas of Utah County with the Salt Lake County areas of Draper, Sandy, Midvale and Cottonwood Heights.
Waddoups said he worked hard to keep entire cities together in the plan. He criticized a Democratic "doughnut hole" plan proposed earlier this week by Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, for splitting some cities. "Cities are a community of interest that we should keep together," he said.
Despite proposing this current "doughnut hole" plan and an earlier one that would form a conservative district in southern Salt Lake County, Waddoups has spoken in favor of having a rural-urban mix in all Utah congressional districts to encourage all representatives to focus on public-lands issues.
Democrats have charged that is an attempt to slice up their strongholds in Salt Lake County and dilute their votes, and make it more likely that Republicans will represent all four new congressional districts.
Waddoups said Friday that "I am moving toward having one district centered here in Salt Lake County," but still joined with some rural areas. He added, "I think Salt Lake County Â but not necessarily Salt Lake City Â has to have a piece of a doughnut hole that is significant. I don't mean 150,000 [people], but 500,000" out of a district that would have to include about 690,000 people.
He said he dislikes the idea of one vast "doughnut" district for rural areas because it would simply be too large for one member of Congress to cover without extensive travel and difficulty.
"How would you like to have your representative live in St. George if you live in Cache County? How would you like your congressman to live in Box Elder County and you live in San Juan? It just doesn't make sense," he said. "It makes sense to spread it out a little bit with someone else."
Davis, whose proposed map also includes the huge rural district, disagreed with that logic.
He said in a previous interview that Utah has had rural-urban districts for the past 10 years, and said it has left rural residents feeling that no one truly represents them because they are outnumbered by urban residents who elect representatives from their areas.
"If I were in rural Utah and I wanted a strong voice for me â¦ I would want someone who understood the rural lifestyle, who understood what the agricultural problems are," Davis said, adding that most rural residents testifying in hearings so far have supported the idea of an all-rural district.
Upcoming redistricting meetings
West Jordan • Tuesday at 6 p.m., Jordan School District Auxiliary Service Building, 7905 S. Redwood Road
Logan • Wednesday at noon, Utah State University, Taggart Student Center Auditorium, 650 N. 800 East
Ogden • Wednesday at 6 p.m., Ben Lomond High School, 1080 9th St.