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Senate passes redistricting map, Summit County still divided

Utah Senate 11-10-2021 redistricting congressional map
Rick Bowmer
Utah Senate floor is shown Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. The Republican-controlled Utah Legislature approved new a congressional map Wednesday that further carves up Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County and largely ignores the work of an independent redistricting commission approved by voters. The new map now goes to GOP Gov. Spencer Cox, who indicated he will not veto it. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A new congressional district map passed easily in the Utah Senate this morning.

State senators voted 21-7 in favor of the new district lines after the state House of Representatives voted the controversial new map through yesterday.

The Legislature met in a special session this week in part to address redistricting. Its redistricting committee declined to use map proposals that an independent, voter-approved redistricting commission drafted.

Utah’s four delegates in the U.S. House of Representatives are elected to office by voters in their respective congressional districts.

The new map adds Park City, Kamas and a large area extending to the northern border into Utah’s third district, which is currently represented by John Curtis. Snyderville, Wanship and area between those places and Morgan County will remain in the first district, represented by Blake Moore.

Legislators who approved the map included John Johnson representing Summit County, Ron Winterton representing Summit and Wasatch counties, and David Hinkins representing Wasatch County. Daniel Thatcher of Salt Lake County was the only Republican to vote with the six Democratic senators against the new map. Republican Curtis Bramble wasn’t present for the vote.

The new boundaries also divide hundreds of thousands of Salt Lake County voters into the four different districts.

Multiple Republicans said the committee’s intention was to mix urban and rural communities into the same districts.

“It is of utmost importance that each of our congressional delegation have as much footprint in rural as in urban Utah as possible, so that as those Congresspeople represent us, they come back and they report to both urban and rural Utah,” said Scott Sandall, Republican Senator and co-chair of the redistricting committee. “They have to travel into those areas, they learn about those areas. That was a very high priority for me.”

Democrats including Senator Derek Kitchen argued the new voting map would “dilute” voices of Salt Lake County residents. He brought up Millcreek, where the population of over 60,000 is broken up into separate districts.

“I’d like to know why Moab, Park City and Provo are more of a community of an interest, or core constituency, than the single city of Millcreek,” Kitchen said. “Intentionally splitting the vote of Salt Lake County more than twice that of any other county is, in my opinion, unconscionable. It serves no purpose other than diluting the franchise of its residents. One-third of the state’s population live right here in Salt Lake County.”

Next, the map goes to Gov. Spencer Cox for final approval, who’s indicated he won’t veto.

Corrected: November 11, 2021 at 11:52 AM MST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Senator Michael Kennedy represented Utah's 19th District. Kennedy represents Senate District 14.
Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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