Plan Would Create 'Oddball' 6th District, Parties Agree

August 28, 1991|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

Members of opposition political parties in Carroll don't often agree.

But both Democrats and Republicans in the county are scratching their heads over the latest proposal for new boundaries for the 6th Congressional District.

"It just doesn't make any sense," said Gary W. Bauer, Hampstead town councilman and member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee.

"It's kind of an oddball district," said Phillip S. Benzil, a Westminster dentist and vice president of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee.

The proposed 6th District is part of a statewide redistricting plan drafted by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee.

The plan would remove from the district the portions of Montgomery and Howard that now are included in it, and substitute them with northern portions of Baltimore and Harford counties.The proposal would result in an elongated district stretching nearlythe width of the state.

"It would probably take six hours of driving to get from one end of the district to the other," said Beau Wright, spokesman for Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-6th.

"Her greatest concern is one of being able to serve her constituents. It would be a tremendously difficult district to travel."

Under the plan,most of Montgomery County would become its own district -- the 8th -- with the remaining small portion becoming part of the 2nd District.Howard would be split between the 4th and 5th districts, with the bulk of its population being in the 4th.

The proposal also would affect the plans of Anthony P. Puca, a Democrat from Potomac, MontgomeryCounty, who plans to challenge Byron again in 1992.

If the plan were approved, Puca, who has a base of support in Montgomery, would have to choose between running in the 6th or the 2nd District.

"I'm still campaigning and planning to run in the 6th, but when push comesto shove if this plan goes through, I have to make a decision on whether I have a better chance running in the the 6th or the 8th," Puca said Monday.

The two choices would pose quite different challengesfor Puca, who was handily defeated by Byron, a seven-term incumbent,in the past two Democratic primaries. However, Puca did improve his performance in the 1990 race, losing by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, compared with the 3-to-1 defeat in 1988.

"If (the part of Montgomery) is not put back in, I would have the primary basically handed to me, but would have a really hard race against (U.S. Representative Constance A. Morella, R-8th)," he said.

Much of the opposition to the new plan seems to center on the geographical hardship posed by the proposed new 6th District, as well as the diverse constituency that such a widespread district would present.

"How can you put Harford County in the same district as the western part of the state?" Puca said."It's a bad plan."

Said Bauer, "It's too diversified and too spread out for one person to represent."

The redistricting proposal will be the subject of a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Joint Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building at 90 State Circle in Annapolis.

The governor's advisory committee has set up a toll-free hot line through which citizens can sign up to testify at the hearing. The number is (800) 688-7494.

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