Edgewood residents want their area to have more political clout.
That's what Edgewood resident Ralph DeBlasi told Harford County Redistricting Commission members at a public hearing Wednesday on the commission's proposal for new boundaries for County Council districts.
"You're putting part of Edgewood in the Havre de Grace district, but our problems are completely different," said DeBlasi. "The peopleof Edgewood are completely disgusted with county government. We haveshootings, there's so much violence, and we need someone to speak for us."
DeBlasi was one of five people who spoke at the hearing, attended by about 25 Harford residents and 25 students from a high school government class.
The redistricting proposal would affect about29,000 residents countywide who would be shifted into different council districts next year to resolve inequities in voter representation.
The changes in council district boundaries are mandated by the county charter during census years. New districts created by revised boundaries must be compact and voting precincts must be connected and roughly equal in population, said Robert E. Corkran, chairman of the Harford redistricting commission. The committee arrived at an ideal district population of 30,355, by dividing the county's population of 182,132 by six -- the number of council districts.
"I know you're going to tell me about the 30,000," DeBlasi stated at the hearing, "But we need somebody who has a voice. Why break us up?"
Of the three Edgewood voting precincts, two are in District F, which is represented by Democrat Philip J. Barker. The two precincts in District F include Edgewood Meadows and the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The third Edgewood precinct, which includes the Edgewater Village area, is in District A, represented by Republican Susan B. Heselton.
The redistricting committee has proposed moving the Edgewood precinct that includes the Edgewood area of APG from District F to District A.
DeBlasi said the two council members representing Edgewoodareas are doing a good job.
Said DeBlasi, "There's a lot of moneyin Edgewood, it's a highly populated area, but the tax dollars aren't coming back to us. I don't care about the 30,000. We'll have more clout if we're in one district."
Former state senator Catherine I. Riley, one of the five members of the redistricting commission, told DeBlasi that the committee's proposal would have benefits for Edgewood residents. "For the first time in history almost 10,000 Edgewood residents will be together and Edgewood will be in a majority position," said Riley. However, last month the commission voted not to split up the Upper Crossroads and Fallston precincts in deference to Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, and her constituents. Parrott and Fallston area residents had argued that Upper Crossroads is considered part of the Fallston area.
The redistricting commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the conference room of the County Council chambers, Level A of the County Courthouse in Bel Air.