OPINION EDITORIAL: The following is an opinion editorial submitted by Senator Casey Anderson. The opinions stated in this article are solely his own and not those of St. George News.
On Tuesday, October 5, the Senate and House voted to adjourn until October 17 in order to allow additional public feedback and time to iron out wrinkles with potential U.S. Congressional maps.
On Monday, October 4, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the Committee Adopted Base Map that has worked its way through the committee process over the last several months. Senator Christianson and I were the only two Republicans to vote against the map. Although the rest of the districts were drawn reasonably well, I felt that the 2nd district, of which we are a part, needed some adjustments in order to give Southern Utah better representation.
Despite drawing the very map that the Senate voted to adopt, the House was unable to come to a consensus and instead proposed a new map that was somewhat similar. The Senate decided that, although similar, the map showed too many significant changes to be considered “modified” and should not be adopted without additional time for public feedback. This is how the redistricting process is supposed to work and the people of Utah are being represented well by their elected officials, Republican or Democrat.
Elected officials are held accountable by the voters in their districts and are subsequently best suited for these responsibilities. As a recent Ford commercial highlighted, “Nothing good ever came from a committee.” As we have seen in many other areas of government, appointed committees are often just shills for elected officials who do not want to bear the burden of responsibility and can pass off blame to a committee that is unelected. Yet the politicians still control the power because the committee members are appointed based on their support of the agenda of the politician who is appointing them. Essentially, instead of 75 House members and 29 Senate members all having a voice, the individuals who appoint the committee have all the authority.
When the Senate and House voted to adjourn until October 17, the media attempted to portray this event as being caused by a divided majority party that is infighting over a power grab.
The truth is that the House and Senate voted to adjourn in order to obtain more public feedback on more recently submitted maps that may be considered. Elected officials have fought diligently to make sure that the interests of their constituents are being represented and, when you have 75 members of the House and 29 members of the Senate who are each working hard for their areas, you are bound to take longer than anticipated and have vibrant discussions.
There are certainly a few things I would change with the process; but, all things considered, Utah has the best redistricting process in the nation and the citizens of Utah have been given an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference for our state.
Representatives have tried their very best to keep communities of interest together, maintain strong representation for their areas, keep deviations low in order to protect tax-payers from litigation and, most importantly, to draw lines that make sense to everybody.
However difficult this process may appear here in Utah, compared to other states, we are clearly the best-managed state in more ways than one.