Herbert signs redistricting bills into law

Daily Herald graphic The Congressional map adopted by the Utah Legislature.

Utah County legislators are saying the county did well in the latest round of redistricting.

In the battle of lawmakers picking who their voters are, populations can find themselves being represented by a lawmaker in another city or county in order to protect an incumbent. County legislators are saying they tried to avoid such practices and focused on drawing boundaries that represent the people best.

"I think Utah County came out very well. I don't think they came out any better than what was fair for Utah County to come out with. The numbers where there to support 14 House seats and five Senate seats, that is what we got," House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said.

Utah County will gain a new state Senate seat and two House districts, giving the county more influence on Utah's Capitol Hill. The county already boasts a strong presence as the governor and Speaker of the House both come from Utah County, but three new lawmakers will mean a stronger presence in the years to come.

"What this means is Utah County will receive more representation in the House and Senate. In terms of what it might mean in future sessions, I can't speculate on that, but it will mean that Utah County will get the representation that it is due because of the population increase over the last 10 years," Lockhart said.

While the county benefited as a whole, some citizens were disappointed with how certain communities were divided into separate House and Senate districts. Rep. Holly Richardson, R-Pleasant Grove, said some disagreed with how the southern end of Pleasant Grove was removed from her district, but Richardson noted that the Legislature tried to do what made best sense in drawing the lines. Other residents were disappointed to see the western end of Provo left out of Sen. Curt Bramble's district.

"It is really hard to draw a map that keeps every community all the way whole," Richardson said. "I think we ended up with a process that most people can be satisfied with."

Utah County communities and cities also found themselves divided in the map that carved the state into four U.S. House districts. The county ended up being split in to two districts with the dividing line running mostly along Interstate 15. Santaquin, Spanish Fork and Lehi all are split into the two districts, but lawmakers argue the county divide in the congressional seats will be a good thing.

"The simple fact is we have good solid populations in the two congressional seats, which means we should be an influence in both of them," Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, said.

The congressional boundary lines proved to be the highest hurdle for the Legislature to clear in the whole redistricting process. While lawmakers worked across the aisle on the state school board map and the state House and Senate district maps, the congressional plans brought divisions between lawmakers.

"I think the congressional maps demonstrated how difficult it is to find a compromise to get the necessary votes," Bramble said. "It is easy to talk about ideal maps; it is harder to find votes for those maps."

The congressional and state House and Senate plans still have one more approval to go before becoming the official boundary lines. Gov. Gary Herbert needs to sign off of the map before they can go into effect.

Herbert's spokeswoman, Ally Isom, said the governor has yet to see the final map for the congressional districts, which is still having technical work done on it. Isom said Herbert feels the Legislature was earnest in the time it took to complete the process and went on to say he won't editorialize on the final plans until he has a chance to evaluate them.