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South Valley Journal

Riverton City Council readjusts its council district boundaries

May 30, 2022 04:57PM ● By Michael J. Jewkes

Riverton City Council districts are redone following results to the 2020 federal census. (Riverton City)

By Michael J. Jewkes | [email protected]

The next decade of the city’s district map is set.

“I believe we landed on a map that will adequately and fairly represent Riverton residents for the next 10 years,” said Councilmember Tawnee McCay regarding the adoption of Ordinance No. 22-07, which accounts for the redistricting of Riverton’s five city council districts.

The new map was adopted back in February of this year marking the first change in Riverton’s city council district borders in about 10 years. According to Riverton City, “…2,700 residents out of the city’s 45,285 were moved into a new district.”

Every decade following the United States Census, all representative governments, from federal to local, are required by federal law to enact any necessary changes to account for population shifts that may have occurred during the 10 years. This governmental practice dates back to only the mid-1960s following a group of supreme court cases regarding equal representation.

Two legendary court rulings account for the routine changes in council districts. First, Wesberry v. Sanders (1964), which coined the term, “as nearly equal as possible,” when ruling on the topic of congressional districts within each state. “…[districts] must be so close in population that they essentially are equal in population,” says the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The second case came in the same year. Reynolds v. Sims (1964) ruled that the same concept established in Wesberry v. Sanders was to apply to all other legislative bodies. From the state legislature all the way down to a local city council, all must strive to be as equal as possible in representing their population.

As for Riverton, the changes have not been substantial; however, they have had an impact on thousands of residents. Some council members have had their districts grown like McCay’s, whose western-most boundary was extended to Mountain View Corridor to include the Western Springs neighborhood. Despite this extension, McCay’s district remains under the ideal population of 9,057 residents per district in account of growing subdivisions within her district borders.

Other councilmembers districts were reduced to adjust for imminent growth. Councilmember Sheldon Stewart has long held the largest district as far as population. Stewart’s district boundaries were also reduced to include a population decrease to account for multiple subdivisions that are expected to grow in the coming years including: the Edge Homes’ Mountain Ridge development and the SALT Village Lofts at Mountain View Village.

Redistricting can be an arduous process. “Partisan bickering” and “gerrymandering” are common phrases that normally accompany redistricting. Mayor Trent Staggs described this year’s redistricting process slightly differently saying, “The redistricting process went very smoothly this year,” he said, continuing, “I appreciate Councilmember McCay’s leadership in proposing new boundary lines and the other councilmembers for working together to approve a map which I think will serve our city well.”

Redistricting of the city council districts is in response to the F