Park City, Provo, Moab in one congressional district as Utah lawmakers release redistricting maps

The public can comment on the boundaries before a legislative committee meeting on Monday.

(Screenshot) The Legislative Redistricting Committee proposed a map Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, that would divide Salt Lake County among Utah's four congressional districts.

The Legislative Redistricting Committee released its proposed congressional, legislative and school board maps Friday night, suggesting that Salt Lake County be divided into all four congressional districts.

Each member would represent parts of the urban Wasatch Front and rural areas — such as District 3, which would include part of Salt Lake County, Park City, Provo and Moab.

Utahns can provide comments in person and online before the committee’s meeting on Monday. The maps can be found under “committee chairs proposal” at citygate.utleg.gov/legdistricting/utah/comment_links. Click “open” under “comment link.”

In the lawmakers’ maps, District 1 includes the northern chunk of the state, stretching to Ogden and East Millcreek. District 2 encompasses the western part of Salt Lake County and southern portions of the state, including St. George over to Blanding. District 3 covers the central part of the state, including Herriman and Nephi. And District 4 stretches the eastern part of the state, down to Moab.

Committee co-chairs Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, and Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said they “considered and implemented input from the public, minority and majority lawmakers, and the Independent Redistricting Commission.”

In their news release, Sandall said: “After listening to Utahns and touring the state, Rep. Ray and I created maps that we believe incorporate the interests of all Utahns. The congressional map we propose has all four delegates representing both urban and rural parts of the state.

“Rural Utah is the reason there is food, water and energy in urban areas of the state,” Sandall said. “We are one Utah and believe both urban and rural interests should be represented in Washington, D.C., by the entire federal delegation.”

Ray added that he and Sandall “have worked tirelessly to come up with boundaries that best represent the diverse interests of the people we were elected to represent. I am grateful for the feedback we received directly from the local communities and look forward to discussing our maps with the committee and full Legislature.”

The co-chairs will present the maps on Monday, and the committee will then vote on what to recommend to the full Legislature. State lawmakers are set to meet for a special session Tuesday to adopt maps, which will be finalized later this month.

Members of the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission presented their maps to the legislative redistricting committee on Monday.

The nonprofit Alliance for a Better Utah was critical of the lawmakers’ maps in a Twitter thread posted Saturday morning.

“At first glance, when it comes to keeping communities [u]nited, this map is clearly subpar compared to the maps produced by the people’s commission,” it said. “Turns out, the people best suited to do the job of redistricting is a team of impartial commissioners.

“Also we cannot let the horrible process go unremarked upon. Lawmakers released the maps on Friday night. People have only [one] chance to comment on them: this Monday at [3 p.m.]. The maps will be voted upon within the next 2 weeks but they’ll impact our lives for 10 years,” according to the nonprofit.

Utah voters established the independent commission in 2018 through Proposition 4. But in 2020, lawmakers made the independent committee have an advisory role with its work, which legislators can consider, but aren’t bound by.

An analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight found that the independent commission’s proposed congressional maps would give Utah Democrats a slight boost. Former Congressman Rob Bishop abruptly resigned from the independent commission Oct. 25, claiming the the commission was “metro-centric” and ignored rural parts of the state.

Some people criticized the lawmakers’ proposed congressional maps on the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee website.

“Explain to me how this isn’t a blatant power grab by people who are terrified of losing their grip on Utah politics?” one person wrote. Another commented, “This map is not reflective of Utah’s population. Gerrymandering Salt Lake County into four districts is unfair to rural and urban voters.”

“Please use one of the maps created by the independent commission,” a commenter wrote. “This feels incredibly like ignoring the will of the people and with no concern for transparency.”

One person said the congressional map “will disenfranchise rural areas at the expense of the Wasatch Front.” Another commenter questioned how the interests of people living in Logan relate to people living in downtown Salt Lake City.

“As a Republican who lives in a more rural part of the state, I have the same complaint as those living in Salt Lake,” the person wrote. “Please do not dilute our vote by splitting us up between all four districts! I’m far more interested in having everybody fairly represented than I am in electing more people from my own party.”

Bryant Heath, who ran every street in Salt Lake City in 2020, tweeted Saturday, “Just a normal Saturday morning run through all four Utah districts in #utleg proposed Congressional map.” He included a map of the path he ran, which he said he planned to be 4 miles, going through the neighborhoods of the “people being affected by the proposed map.”

However, at least one commenter on the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee website agreed with the lawmakers’ proposed congressional maps.

“The maps look great guys,” the person wrote. “The commissions maps were gerrymandered. These are better and do not aim to give democrats freebies.”

More information about redistricting is available at redistricting.utah.gov.

This story is developing and will be updated.