Now that the 2011 legislative general session is over, the Utah Legislature will turn its attention to redistricting. After each census, the political boundaries of the state are redrawn, including the districts for the Utah State Board of Education.
Utah Senate Leaders discussed the redistricting process in two recent conversations with the media. On Feb. 25, Senate President Michael Waddoups said the new districts will be “representative of the constituencies in Utah.”
“This will be a great process,” Waddoups said. “I encourage everyone to watch it, to participate and express their views.”
Senate leaders see the Legislature’s redistricting committee soliciting feedback from Utahns during the process, possibly with an online component.
“At the end of the day, I think we’ll be very fair,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins said. “There’s a fair amount of subjectivity involved in a process like this and it’s pretty tough to make everybody happy […] but we can guarantee them the process will be fair.”
According to the 2010 Census figures, Utah and Washington Counties have seen significant growth. Washington County grew by nearly 53 percent over the past decade and Utah County has about 40 percent more people. In comparison, Salt Lake County grew by just 14.6 percent, with much of that growth in the southern part of the valley. This means Washington and Utah Counties will likely see new legislative districts created, while the urban core of Salt Lake County could lose a district to its faster-growing southern suburbs.
For the 15 Utah State Board of Education Districts, the redistricting process will also take into consideration Utah’s shifting population centers. Washington County is currently in District 15, which includes five counties in total. Utah County is split between three State Board districts: The Alpine District is represented by District 12, Nebo is represented by District 3 and Provo by District 13. In Salt Lake County, the Canyons, Granite, Jordan, Murray and Salt Lake City School Districts are divided between seven districts on the State Board: Districts 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
There have been attempts to change the process of redrawing the state’s political maps by creating an independent redistricting commission. However, this push has failed to gain momentum. So the process will be overseen by the Utah Legislature, as it is currently outlined in the Utah Constitution. The Legislature’s redistricting committee, headed by Representative Ken Sumsion (R-American Fork), will conclude its work this fall.