Utah’s redistricting efforts led to the combination and elimination of several Salt Lake City districts, including House District 30, which is represented by Utah’s only openly gay representative, Brian Doughty. HD 30 will be combined with House Districts 26 and 25.
Doughty was selected by party delegates to take over the seat last summer when Utah’s first openly gay representative, Jackie Biskupski, stepped down because she moved outside of her district. Doughty will now reside in HD 26, which is currently represented by David Litvack, a fellow Democrat. Doughty said he’s known all along that his district would most likely be eliminated because population outside of Salt Lake City is growing very quickly.
“I spoke with (Litvack) about the possibility of me running against him. He encouraged me to do it and said he wouldn’t try to stop me,” Doughty said. “Intraparty challenges are always tough, but I’m definitely considering it.”
Doughty said he was pleased with the redistricting process of the House districts and the process was done through conversation between the two parties. But that wasn’t the case with the redistricting of the Senate seats, Doughty said. Senate District 7, which is represented by Ross Romero, who announced he is running for Salt Lake County Mayor, and Senate District 4, which is represented by Pat Jones, have been combined. Romero and Jones, both Democrats, would have faced an intraparty challenge if he didn’t step aside to run for mayor.
“The redistricting of my seat absolutely played a role in my decision to run for mayor,” Romero said.
Republican Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who represents Davis County’s Senate District 23, had his area extended to encompass parts of Salt Lake City in the Rose Park area.
“The senate map didn’t take into account the Democratic concerns at all,” Doughty said. “The Republicans didn’t seek out the experience and knowledge from the Democratic representatives and senators like they could have.”
The redistricting process has led to protests, rallies and threats of lawsuits. The addition of Utah’s fourth congressional seat has led Republicans to create and support maps that have a mix of urban and rural constituencies. However, Democrats counter that this is a simple attempt to dilute the Democratic vote, and the party chairman, Jim Dabakis, has threatened lawsuits if these concerns are not addressed. Democrats have advocated for keeping communities together. The vote on the congressional redistricting map is not expected until Oct. 17.