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Davis Journal

Sparks fly at legislative special session

Nov 18, 2021 08:47AM ● By Becky Ginos

Sen. Scott Sandall, co-chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee speaks on the Senate floor about the maps submitted by the committee. Photo by Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—Things got a little heated during last week’s legislative special session as lawmakers voted on redistricting maps that the state will use for the next 10 years. Ultimately, the maps submitted by the Legislative Redistricting Committee were adopted with some opposition by the Democrats.

“Every citizen should have a voice,” said Sen. Derek L. Kitchen, D-District 2 before the Senate vote. “When you shred Salt Lake County you dilute our voice.”

“You’re cutting up Salt Lake County into four pieces,” said Sen. Karen Mayne, D-District 5. “You’re putting us where we don’t belong and they don’t want us. We’re different. I really don’t like this map.”

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield was co-chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee and has spent months traveling the state to receive public input on the maps. “These are solid maps,” he said. “Our priority was a rural/urban mix. We get our water, food and power from rural areas. We’re one state. We have to be united. I’m pleased with what we’ve done.”

“There’s been more scrutiny than 10 years ago,” said Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton. “The process has been fair. If the Democrats were in the super majority, the Republicans would be whining. It’s a necessary process and I think the people are well served.”

The BLM has 30 million acres in Utah, he said. “The rural communities can’t access their land. They’re wild and wonderful places with sage brush but they can’t get it on the tax rolls. The land can’t be productive. Utah’s number one export is our children but we don’t have jobs for them.”  

The maps aren’t perfect but mostly they’re pretty good, said Handy. “You’re never, ever going to make everyone happy but the process has been transparent and deliberate.”

For the most part, Ray said the people he met across the state were wonderful but some were angry. “I’ve been diagnosed with ADD. So I pace and I was rocking as I listened to testimony. This guy started berating me for moving around. To beat somebody up and bully and yell at me is unacceptable. He really came unglued on that.”

In spite of those experiences, Ray said he enjoyed the process. “To be able to do this has been a blessing. I’ve been to some little towns that I’d like to go back and visit. I’ve met some wonderful people in those communities that I’ll treasure throughout my life.”