The people of Essex are distressed. The redistricting plan that the Baltimore County Council approved Monday splits their councilmanic district -- moving 14,000 Essexites from the 5th District into the 7th District. That not only lumps residents of Essex with those in Dundalk, whose community identities are vastly different and competitive, but also, and more important, breaks up what has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold.
But what did the people expect? In the last election, the 5th and 7th districts threw over Democratic incumbent Dennis Rasmussen and supported Republican Roger Hayden for county executive. The 6th District, which held a key vote in redistricting, ousted Democrat William Evans and elected Republican William Howard, and the 7th dumped Democrat Dale Volz for Don Mason who is, for all intents and purposes, a Democrat in name only. Mason not only supported Republican Hayden in the executive's race, but also sided with the Republicans on just about every issue. Add to that Republican victories in the 2nd and the 4th councilmanic districts, and there was little doubt that Mason's plan -- which dilutes Democratic strength and, as a consequence, puts coveted community identities in jeopardy -- would sail through the council.
Given the partisan mandate in last November's election, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone.