To the editor:
Recently, a Salt Lake newspaper published a lead editorial claiming that the Republicans are giving Democrats unfair treatment in the Senate redistricting process. The editorial specifically charged that the "Senate redistricting proposal doesn't qualify as bipartisan."The editorial also quoted Peter Billings as saying "that five Democrat senators will have their current terms shortened from four to two years." Both claims are inaccurate.
As a member of the Reapportionment Committee, I would like to set the record straight.
In the final committee meeting, the Senate plan was adopted on a vote of 17 to 4. The Senate Democrats on the committee all voted in favor of the plan and a majority of the House Democrats voted in favor of the plan. A majority of Republicans and Democrats also supported the House redistricting plan. That type of unanimous support certainly qualifies as bipartisan.
I would also like to set the record straight regarding claims that the congressional plan is unfair because it divides Salt Lake City purely for political reasons.
Salt Lake County has a population of 725,000. To meet the requirements of the law, a congressional district must be about 574,000. Therefore, the county must be split and about 151,000 people have to be joined with another area.
Ten years ago, the south end of Salt Lake County was split off and joined with another county. The committee felt it was unfair to disenfranchise the same group of people again.
They argued that the people in the southwest area of the valley have been separated for 10 years and now deserve the opportunity to be associated with their own county.
Unfortunately, someone has to be divided. The committee proposed that it was now time for the northwest end of the county to take its turn.
Reapportionment is obviously a political process, but there has been a tremendous amount of cooperation between the Democrats and the Republicans on the committee.
Regrettably, there are a few political types in our state who spend more time stirring up trouble and talking about lawsuits than they spend serving the people of the state.
I hope that these type of people will not be given as much credibility in the future and that the reporting of deliberate rumors and misinformed speculation can be avoided.
The differences in geographical and political interests are understandable, but readers certainly deserve to have these differences reported in an accurate, reliable and unbiased manner.
Stephen J. Rees, chairman