Cheverly to redraw council's wards, aiming to put more blacks in office

November 23, 1990|By Eileen Canzian

Hoping to resolve a voting rights lawsuit, members of the Cheverly Town Council in Prince George's County have agreed to draw new boundaries for the town's six councilmanic wards.

The redistricting plan -- the first since the current boundaries were set in 1963 -- is aimed at increasing the number of blacks on the six-member council. It would create three wards that are largely black and three that are largely white.

Blacks are now a majority in just one of the six wards -- even though they represent about half the town's population.

"I believe that this action puts Cheverly back into compliance with federal law," said Fred Price Jr., now the council's only black member.

The council approved the plan by unanimous vote Tuesday.

The action was spurred by a lawsuit filed in March by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. Christopher Brown, an ACLU lawyer, said he still must review the plan but thought it would satisfy the objections raised in the suit.

"They've agreed to a plan which apparently will give black voters a good shot of electing three blacks to the council," Mr. Brown said.

He noted that the new plan would create six wards that would each contain about 360 households. Currently, the size of the wards varies widely.

The plan must be formally approved by the council when it meets Dec. 13.

Unless town residents seek a referendum to overturn it, the new districts would be used in the upcoming election in May. Four of the council's current members would be competing for just two seats.

A trial in the lawsuit had been scheduled for Jan. 22 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

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