They've shared political representation with suburban Baltimore County, rural Howard County and even non-contiguous Harford County.
Now Carroll's state legislators say they want to sever ties with all Baltimore metropolitan jurisdictions when political boundaries are redrawn next year.
Five of the six legislators advocate forming one district to be contained entirely within the county's borders (with three delegates and one senator from Carroll) and another by combining a piece of western Carroll with a portion of Frederick County (with one delegate andone senator from Carroll).
The county now is fragmented into districts that include pieces of Baltimore, Howard and Frederick counties.
Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, has not taken a stand on redistricting for Carroll. About 80 percent of his constituents live in the Woodlawn and Owings Mills areas of Baltimore County.
"We belong with the Western Maryland delegation, not with Baltimore County," Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, told the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee at a public hearing last month.
Carroll legislators emphasized that the county's commissioner formof government, conservative politics and rural ways meshed with Western Maryland counties and clashed to some extent with more urbanized Baltimore and Howard counties.
The legislators' push for a WesternMaryland alignment isn't linked to the county commissioners' ongoingstudy into whether Carroll should stay a member of a Baltimore regional planning agency, a spokesman in
volved in both issues said.
"It's an entirely different playing field," said Joseph M. Getty, who chairs both the commissioners' study committee and the Carroll Republican Central Committee.
Baltimore politicians could attempt to expand districts beyond city borders to maintain representation as thepopulation declines, political observers say. Such an expansion could produce a ripple effect, forcing Baltimore County legislators to look toward population bases in other counties to bolster representation.
"We run the risk of losing political strength if we join Baltimore," Getty said. "I don't think by saying we'll align with Western Maryland we're denying involvement in the Baltimore metropolitan area,but it cuts political risks."
Carroll Democratic Central Committee Chairman Greg Pecoraro said the panel has not decided which alignment would be most beneficial to the county and the party.
In February, the General Assembly will adopt redrawn boundaries of the state's47 legislative districts, a plan that can increase or diminish a jurisdiction's political influence and help determine re-election bids. The new districts will be based on the 1990 Census figures and are intended to produce equal representation by adjusting for population shifts.
One preliminary regional alignment linked Carroll to the four Western Maryland counties, while another proposed map united the county with the Baltimore area.
"Carroll County has contributed so much to other counties by being so chopped up," said Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, who once represented a three-county district."We've grown to the point that we deserve our own senatorial district."