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Salt Lake County Council chooses redistricting option

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 6:48 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a county redistricting plan that acknowledges the county's westward population shift while keeping all of the incumbent County Council members inside their current districts.

Two of the three proposals the redistricting commission submitted to the county would have carved District 3 Councilmman David Wilde out of his district and into District 4, represented by Jani Iwamoto.

And while Iwamoto said she, for a time, favored one of the options that could have left her running against Wilde when she is up for election next year, both councilmembers ended up voting for the proposal that most closely represents their current boundary areas.

The new map can be seen as the option labeled Proposal 1 on the "Commission Report of Recommendations" on the county's website. That report also identifies precinct changes the County Council approved Tuesday in the Canyons, Jordan and Granite school districts.

District 1 representative Arlyn Bradshaw was the only Council member to vote against the boundary changes that were chosen. He favored an option that was the commission's pick of the three options they gave the Council, one which would have left Wilde outside his district but would have given each of the six Council districts a portion of unincorporated county.

"I think it strengthens unincorporated areas by ensuring every one of the district representatives represents some unincorporated county," Bradshaw said.

Janice Auger Rasmussen, chairwoman of the redistricting commission assembled by the County Council, said she felt very good about the Council's decision. "They respected our process and did not come out with their own map, which they could have done."

Dennis Alexander, another redistricting commission member, said the chosen district revisions are the most political of the three given to the Council, "but we can live with it. It completely protects the incumbency issue, which is what they wanted to most protect," he said.

District 2 representative Michael Jensen asked for and got the only modification to the chosen boundary map, which moves the Kennecott tailings situated between I-80 and 2100 South back into his district, where they currently are. "I know for Magna residents that's a huge issue. We've spent a lot of money and time over the last four years working on that (tailings) issue."

That revision affected very few residences, and it won the nod from redistricting commission members who came to Tuesday's Council meeting poised to snarl if the Council tinkered with its proposals.

Rasmussen and others had strong words for the Council one week ago, warning them not to let gerrymandering mess with the work they have spent the past eight months on. She called those warnings "the one shot we had in a public meeting, and we thought we should take advantage of it."

With the new boundaries, Bradshaw's District 1 grows much larger, its western boundary pushing from the current jagged line between Redwood Road and I-15 to include all of western Salt Lake City. The expansion is taken from Jensen's District 2, with the exception of the tailings change. Wilde's District 3 loses some of the eastern part of Murray to District 4 and loses the area between Taylorsville's northern boundaries and 2100 South.

Iwamoto's District 4 loses its southernmost protrusion in Cottonwood Heights. Steve Debry's District 5 loses territory in Riverton and Herriman to District 2. Max Burdick's District 6 pushes farther west into Midvale, Sandy and Draper.

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com, Twitter: SteveFidel

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