Precincts Shuffled In Redistricting Plan

September 01, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Almost 29,000 Harford residents would be shifted into new County Council districts next year to resolve inequities in voter representation under a plan a redistricting commission has recommended.

The changes in council district boundaries would affect 28,887 people -- almost 16 percent of the county's 182,132 residents.

Most county voters wouldn't even notice the difference when they go to the polls in 1994, the next time council elections are to be held, said Rita Dather, administrator for the county Board of Elections. The reason: Harford voters vote countywide for council members rather that strictly in-district.

"Under the new plan, everyone will still be voting for all seven council positions, and they will still vote at the polling place where they've always voted," Dather said. "The only difference may be that your particular council member might change, depending on which precinct you live in."

While all seven council districts would be affected by some changes, districts B and Cwould be the most affected by the proposed changes.

District B isrepresented by Republican Joanne S. Parrott, and District C is represented by Democrat Theresa M. Pierno.

The proposed boundaries would shift 4,443 people in one Abingdon precinct from District B into District E, currently represented by Robert S. Wagner, a Republican.

Another 7,435 would be shifted from a second Abingdon precinct in District B into District F, now represented by Democrat Philip J. Barker.

Two precincts would be shifted out of District C. One Bel Air precinct, which includes the Forest Lawn neighborhood, would be shifted into District B. The shift would send 4,343 residents into B.

Another Bel Air precinct, which includes the Worthington Heights neighborhood, would be shifted from District C to District E. That shift would affect 3,045 people.

Shuffling the precincts would bring the District B population -- now 39,512 -- fairly close to the ideal district population of 30,355, established by the commission.

Other changes include:

* District A would gain an Edgewood precinct, which includes an area of Trimble Road and the Edgewood Arsenal side of Aberdeen Proving Ground. The precinct is in District F.

* District D would gain the Harkins precinct, which includes the communities of Hickory and Chestnut Hill. The precinct is in District E.

* DistrictE, while gaining precincts from districts B and C, would lose Perryman precinct to District F and the Harkins precinct.

* District F would lose the Edgewood Arsenal precinct to District A and gain the Abingdon precinct that includes the community of Riverside, now in District B, and the Perryman precinct.

The commission determined the ideal size of a council district by dividing the county's population of 182,132 by six, the number of council members who are assigned specific districts in the county. The seventh member, the council president, is considered an at-large member and does not represent a specific district.

The changes in council districts are mandated every 10years to coincide with the U.S. Census to ensure that districts remain roughly the same size. To accomplish that goal, the five-member Harford County Redistricting Commission has recommended that seven of the county's 40 voting precincts be moved into different council districts.

The plan will be presented to the public for comment next month, but no date or time has been set. After several public hearings,the commission will develop a final redistricting plan, which will be submitted to the council for approval in October.

The changes toDistrict B represent a compromise reached last month between the redistricting commission members and Parrott.

The commission had considered moving one or both of the Upper Crossroads precincts in District B into District C. Parrott lobbied the panel, saying the two UpperCrossroads precincts are considered by most county residents to be part of the greater Fallston area, her home district.

DISTRICT POPULATION FIGURES IN COUNCIL REDISTRICTING PLAN

... ... ... ... ... ...Current... ... ... . Proposed

District... ... ... population... ...... population

A... ... ... ... ... .. 25,086... ... ... ... 30,392

B... ... ... ... ... .. 39,512... ... ... ... 31,967

C... ... ... ... ... .. 36,207... ... ... ... 28,819

D... ... ... ... ..... 27,703... ... ... ... 29,693

E... ... ... ... ... .. 26,476...... ... ... 29,669

F... ... ... ... ... ...27,148... ... ... ... 31,592

Source: Harford County Redistricting Commission

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