About 300 residents, organization leaders and politicians from Baltimore County crowded into the Loch Raven High School auditorium to express their unhappiness over a proposal to include them in a legislative district whose primary allegiance, they said, would be to the city.
"We would be the stepchildren of both our state and county representatives," said Jeff Ziegler, who represented the Colonial Village Neighborhood Association in Pikesville at the public hearing last night. "Neither will have full interest in us."
With a decades-long population shift from city to suburb continuing, Baltimore stands to lose one or two of its nine legislative districts whennew boundaries are drawn to reflect the 1990 Census. That would result in a loss of legislative clout for the city as well as the loss of safe seats for several of its lawmakers.
Some city legislators are talking about extending some current city districts into Baltimore or Anne Arundel counties to add voters. As proposed by city legislators, those districts would retain a majority of city voters.
The state's 47 legislative districts must be configured so that each has a population close to the statewide average of 101,733. Gov. William Donald Schaefer will submit a map to the 1992 General Assembly, and, unless legislators can agree on ways to change it, the plan will become law.
"Is it our fault that the city has lost population or that the census under-counted people?" Ziegler asked members of the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee. "Of course not . . . leave our precinct in the county where it belongs."
Many speakers at the meeting offered different solutions on possible redistricting involving the county.
"The time is long overdue for African-American representation in Baltimore County," said state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, D-Balto. Co. She encouraged the formation of a single-member district with one black representative as a way to prevent the dilution of the minority vote in a multi-member district.
But Ella White Campbell, president of the Liberty Road Community Council, said any plan for a single-member sub-district would not properly represent the integrated nature of the Randallstown area.
"We must not be separated in interest or we will be divided in purpose. . . . Those who advocate division wish to sell out the community to advance their own selfish, political and other hidden agendas," she said.
Though there were more than 70 speakers at last night's hearing, Randallstown resident Sylvia Goldberg was upset by what she called a lack of support for her neighborhood by elected officials.
"I don't understand this," she said. "The people who we put into office didn't represent us. We have become orphans. And you know why? Because we are black and white, and no one wants us."
The meeting at Loch Raven was the sixth of 13 public meetings to be held statewide before the advisory committee begins work sessions next month. Last night's attendance was larger than that of all previous five meetings combined, said Dennis O. McGee, a state planning office spokesman.
Traditionally, legislative lines, while crossing neighboring counties, haven't crossed city-county boundaries, McGee said. But "this year, there's a possibility that that may change," he said.
"Baltimore City is the economic and cultural engine of Maryland," he said. "It's the hub whether people like it or not."