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S.L. County must also alter lines

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Just as state lawmakers have been wrangling with redrawing the geographical boundaries of state Senate and House districts, the members of the Salt Lake County Council will face the same task.

The county has to wait until the state is finished retooling political districts that will impact as many as 300 out of the 700 voting precincts in Salt Lake County.

By Oct. 1, that redistricting plan will be turned over to the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office, where employees there will generate maps that represent the revised precincts.

The shuffling of residents in six of the nine county council districts is a requirement under the change-in-government plan adopted by voters in 1998. Three of the council seats will be unaffected by the boundaries' changes because they are at-large positions.

By the end of December, the county has to have its new council districts adopted after a public hearing.

Deputy Mayor Alan Dayton said the redrawing of council district boundaries has to stay as geographically consistent as possible to the original boundary.

With that said, there may be minimal impact on three of the two-year seats that will be up for grabs in next November's election.

Republicans David Wilde and Winston Wilkinson as well as Democrat Joe Hatch have two-year positions on the council. Each of their districts are expected to pick up some additional voters.

Hatch sits on the council's subcommittee charged with redistricting and is the lone Democrat.

He says he has come up with a plan he feels is as politically palatable as it can be to both Democrats and Republicans.

"I'm putting up a map that is going to be as nonpartisan as possible."

Because of the changing demographics revealed by the 2000 Census numbers, county officials predict Republican Michael Jensen's district on the west side of the valley has to drop a huge number of voters because it has grown so much.

Jensen represents all of West Valley City, Magna, Copperton, much of West Jordan and practically the entire west side.

Correspondingly, Russell Skousen, a Republican representing South Salt Lake and much of the east side of the valley such as the Millcreek area, will pick up as many as 20,000 residents and more than likely see his district spread to the south, bumping into council chairman Marv Hendrickson's.

Hendrickson's district constitutes most of Holladay, all of Midvale and dips into Draper, Riverton and Bluffdale. He, too, will have to lose a number of voters because of population growth in his area.

It's likely some of Hatch's proposals for redistricting will be discussed on Sept. 25.

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com