Joint city-county district draws anger at hearing

July 03, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The public had its turn last night to come up with a plan for how Baltimore County's congressional and legislative districts should be drawn up for the next 10 years.

About 300 people showed up at Loch Raven High School for a hearing scheduled by Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Redistricting Advisory Committee, which must come up with boundaries for legislative and congressional districts statewide based on 1990 Census figures.

About 70 people signed up to speak. But the only point of agreement was that county residents want no part of being included in a joint city-county legislative district.

The committee has set as a goal that the 47 legislative districts will be "substantially equal in population," with an ideal target of about 101,733 residents per district, represented by one senator and three delegates. The target for congressional districts is 597,683.

But Baltimore has lost population over the past 10 years, and the city may lose two of its nine legislative districts, a reduction that could spell a loss of political clout in Annapolis. State legislators from Baltimore are interested in having at least one city district that would overlap into the county, possibly by including parts of Pikesville or Woodlawn.

But those at last night's session seemed firmly against that. Some carried yellow signs reading "Hands Off of Pikesville." Others told the five-member committee, which includes the leadership of both the state Senate and House, that they want no part of city politics.

"If we wanted to be part of the city we would have moved there, but we did not," said Jeff Ziegler of the Colonial Village Neighborhood Association, a Pikesville community near the city line.

The committee also was told:

* It must keep Jewish communities "as unified as possible."

* It should create a single-member legislative district to ensure representation of the minority population in the Liberty Road corridor.

* But from others, it should not create a single-member district.

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