Four Utah County lawmakers have been named as members of a legislative redistricting committee “entrusted with crafting boundaries for state Senate, House and congressional districts.”
Legislative leadership announced the 20-member redistricting committee’s formation on Friday. In a press release, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said that the redistricting committee “has been tasked with setting legislative boundaries that reflect the changes our state has seen over the last decade.”
“The legislators selected will provide input and unique perspectives through a fair and transparent process to accomplish this assignment,” the Senate president said. “Their recommendations are vital in the redistricting process, and I am certain their work will result in the best outcomes for our growing state.”
The legislative committee is one of two bodies tasked with studying what Utah’s political boundaries should look like for the next decade.
The other body, the seven-member Utah Independent Redistricting Commission, formed as the result of a 2018 ballot initiative in order to recommend redistricting plans to the Legislature. It held its first public meeting on April 13 and will hold its second meeting on April 27.
Multiple Utah County lawmakers were named to the legislative redistricting committee, including Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, whose district covers parts of south Utah County, as well as Reps. Val Peterson, R-Orem; Jefferson Burton, R-Spanish Fork; and Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork.
In a written statement provided to the Daily Herald on Monday, Nelson said he was “excited to be appointed to the Legislature’s decennial redistricting committee” and has had “a long-time interest in the redistricting process and feel(s) the weight of this important responsibility.”
“As a committee, we will take input from the public, current office holders, and the newly formed independent redistricting commission before making final recommendations for approval by the Legislature,” said Nelson.
The Grantsville representative added that “our intent is not to benefit any individual or party, but to draw boundaries that will provide fair representation to all voters throughout the state and thereby strengthen our system of self-government.
“In that process, we must also retain fair representation of rural areas of the state as our population becomes more urban,” he said. “I have full confidence that this committee will accomplish its task in a fair and transparent manner to maintain the public trust.”
In a written statement, Peterson noted that Utah “has seen rapid growth and development over the past 10 years” and said his goal “is to work with members of the committee and the public to ensure that we come up with a map that represents all Utahns and best serves the needs of the state.”
McKell said that being a member of the redistricting committee “is not an assignment I take lightly,” adding “I will do my part to protect the interest of Utahns.”
“As one of the senators representing the fastest growing county in Utah, I am committed to listening to all individuals as I work with other legislators to make the best recommendation for our state,” the Spanish Fork senator said in a statement.
The committee will craft the new boundaries based on decennial census data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which hasn’t been released yet due to coronavirus-related delays. The Legislature expects to receive the census data by Oct. 1, according to Legislative leadership.
In the press release, Republican Tremonton Sen. Scott Sandall, the co-chair of the committee, said the group of 20 lawmakers “will talk and listen to individuals from across the state before making recommendations,” adding that “our committee’s diverse perspectives will help us find the best path forward as we work to represent all individuals, families and groups in Utah.”
Other lawmakers named to the legislative redistricting committee include Sens. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy; Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City; Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan; and Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City; as well as Reps. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield; Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City; Ashlee Matthews, D-West Jordan; and Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman.