Black Forum Proposes New County Council District

Bid For More Votingpower Centers On Annapolis Area

June 30, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff Writer

The Black Political Forum has asked the county to create a new County Council district in the Annapolis area to increase black voting power.

The forum, a group of county and Annapolis leaders, made its proposal to the county Charter Revision Commission during a public hearing at Glen Burnie High School Thursday night.

The commission is charged with redrawing council districts to reflect population changes recorded in the 1990 census.

The commission will make its recommendations to the County Council in September.

Forum chairman Lewis Bracy and member Mary Sellman Jackson presented the group's plan to the commission. The new district would be aboutone-third black. In connection with the new district, the group is considering proposing an eight- or nine-member council, up from the current seven.

Bracy said it would be difficult to create a black majority district without dividing the county up into many more districts than it now has.

"Because the population is so spread out, it is not likely that we can create an African-American seat at this time," Bracy said. "We wanted a chance for the greatest possible representation for the community."

About 12 percent of the county's 427,239 residents are black.

Commission members asked Bracy what effect a smaller Annapolis district would have on other districts, since allmust have the same number of residents.

Bracy said the forum hadn't developed specific numbers yet, but would have a final proposal ready in about a week.

District 4, which includes Crownsville and Odenton and is represented by Democrat David Boschert, has the largest percentage of black residents, at 26 percent -- 13,822 of the district's population of 53,660.

However, a number of the district's black residents can't vote locally, because they are military personnel stationed at Fort Meade or are incarcerated.

Of 12,509 Fort Meade residents, census figures say, 3,170 are black. At six state prisons in the area, 3,548 of 4,551 inmates are black, a state Division of Correction spokesman said.

The Annapolis area would be the forum's next best chance for a minority district. District 6, which includes the city, is represented by Democrat Maureen Lamb and is 22 percent black.

The council hasn't had a black member since Sarah Carter, a North County Democrat, was defeated in the 1982 primary election after the county instituted voting by districts.

Nine people attended Thursday's hearing, among them Councilmen Boschert and Carl "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena. It was the first of four hearings the commission will conduct this summer. The next will be at Arundel High School in Gambrills July 9 at 7 p.m.

Commission chairman Robert D. Agee told the audience the panel wants to know people's views on district boundaries, number of council members, whether members should be elected atthe same time or in staggered terms and if the council should have achairman elected at-large by the entire county.

The Black Political Forum also hopes to influence state General Assembly redistricting. At a hearing Tuesday before the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee, the forum recommended creating 12 single-member state delegate districts in the county and dividing District 30 -- which includes Annapolis -- into three smaller districts.

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