The yearlong process of redrawing the boundaries of Annapolis' eightwards began last week, with Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins saying the city should retain its two predominantly black wards.
"Ever since I have been on the council, since 1961, the council has always had two black members, and that should continue," Hopkins said.
The mayor said the 13-member committee he appointed last week will make recommendations to the City Council within a year. The councilmust approve any changes to ward lines and is free to change the committee's plan.
Based on 1990 Census data, Hopkins said some ward lines will have to be changed. But the mayor said he made no recommendations to the committee, asking only that members work to ensure "fair and equitable minority representation in city government."
The city's population grew 6 percent during the 1980s, from 31,740 to 33,178, according to figures compiled by planning and zoning official Teresa Dowd.
The percentage of black residents dropped from 35 percent to 33 percent, due in part to the 1989 closing of the 159-unit Boston Heights housing complex, Dowd's report said.
Population in wards 4, 5 and 7 grew significantly, while it decreased substantially in wards 2, 3 and 8. Population in wards 1 and 6 dropped slightly.
In1980, more than 70 percent of the population in both wards 3 and 5 was black. Last year, 62 percent of Ward 3 residents and 57 percent ofWard 5 residents were black.
The council's two black members saidthey will watch closely to ensure minority citizens are represented fairly. Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward 3, said the city should have at least two black-majority wards.
Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward5, suggested it may be time for a third.
"To comply with the Voting Rights Act, the city must have equitable representation," Snowden said. "I'm not convinced the status quo satisfies that."
The committee has one black member. Hopkins said he asked each alderman to name someone to the committee, so the aldermen's concerns would be addressed.
The committee includes: John Prehn, Ward 1, who will serve as chairman; Jim Martin, Ward 2; Marvin Charles, Ward 3; Steve Hiller,Ward 4; Allen Cartwright, Ward 5; Paul Goetzke, Ward 6; Heidi Berry,Ward 7; Elizabeth Garraway, Ward 8; and Ruth Hyatt, Carol Gerson, Arthur Greenbaum, Donald Groseclose and James H. Morgan II, at-large members.