Tom Smart, Deseret News
Legislators meet during a special session of the Utah State Legislature about congressional redistricting maps Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A recently attended panel discussion at BYU with Rep. Ken Sumsion and Rep. Brian King about redistricting has left me considerably alarmed. While it is obvious to onlookers the process was filled with partisan interests, and though I appreciated their honesty in discussing the issue, I did not expect to see both legislators so openly nonchalant about partisan motivations.

Truthfully, both parties demanded gerrymandered districts. The only difference was that Republicans had the votes while the Democrats did not. That is "just the process," they said. Just politics.

Really? Redistricting is critical because it affects everything — from education to business growth. People cried that the process diluted the Democratic vote, but I'd reason that it diluted the Republican vote as well.

Safe districts create incumbents who look to please delegates, not the majority of their constituents. An independent commission that gives the Legislature the final say would go a long way in ensuring legislators represent Utah and not those few ideological delegates. The idea has been dismissed in the belief that nothing is truly bipartisan. So we throw in the towel for something that "might" be partisan for one that definitely is?

Jessica Steele