Group seeks neutral legislative redistricting plan

Group hopes to put commission-creating law before voters

Published: Tuesday, April 21 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

While that's fine — and has been done before, notes Watts Baskin — past redistricting has shown great favoritism to incumbents to the peril of regular citizens, she believes.

"It makes no sense that the small town of Randolph (Cache County), population 300, is divided down the middle of its Main Street," she said.

Tooele County is divided up several ways, with one of its representatives living in eastern Box Elder County and having to drive around the Great Salt Lake to visit constituents.

An independent commission would employ common sense redrawing guidelines, like considering economic connections, ethnic make-up and long-time ties among neighborhoods, she said.

Just one more example of so-called "gerrymandering" in 2001 — U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson's 2nd Congressional District, which was in Salt Lake County, was moved to only the eastern side of the county, and now includes counties to the east, southeast and southwest. In fact, the huge 2nd District, which stretches all the way from Salt Lake to Iron and Washington counties, in one of the largest geographic districts in the nation.

"But those who claim gerrymander, look how that turned out?" Clark said.

Matheson, the only Democrat in the Utah congressional delegation, has won re-election ever since.

In fact, Clark points to the "well done" four-seat U.S. House redistricting plan "adopted almost unanimously in the Legislature."

Clark said it's his intention not to allow that four-seat plan to be changed, should Utah get another seat before the 2012 election. In fact, Clark said the current four-seat plan should just be adopted in 2011 for the next 10 years — he believes it is basically fair and responsible.

E-MAIL: bbjr@desnews.com

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