Byron Favors Newest 6th District Plan

September 22, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

What Representative Beverly B. Byron called the flavor of Western Maryland won't be spoiled, should a redistricting proposal hammered outlast week become reality.

"This is better," the Frederick Democrat said. "I felt the five counties of Western Maryland had to stay together."

Those remarks, made after a three-hour closed door session of theGovernor's Redistricting Advisory committee in Baltimore Thursday, contrast sharply with what Byron was saying about a preliminary plan being passed around Annapolis earlier in the week.

"What they're handing out now stinks," said the seven-term congresswoman, had told about 72 people at a meeting of the Westminster Rotary and Kiwanis clubs Wednesday night. "This would change the flavor of our Western Maryland district to that of a Central Maryland district."

Byron strongly criticized that proposal, which surfaced as the committee was negotiating final adjustments to the redrawn congressional boundaries denounced by Gov. William Donald Schaefer last month.

Under the newest proposal, unveiled Thursday, Byron's 6th District would contain allof Garrett, Allegany, Frederick, Washington and Carroll counties, aswell as the northern half of Baltimore County.

But in the plan announced Monday in Annapolis, Byron's 6th District would have consisted of Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties, most of Carroll and Frederick counties and parts of Harford and Baltimore counties.

What angered the congresswoman most, however, was that plan's proposal to lop off 33,000 Frederick County and 37,000 South Carroll voters from her district, putting them instead in the Montgomery County-dominated 8th District.

That plan also would have put her Frederick district office in the 8th District, as well as the Frederick County Office Building.

"It doesn't make any sense," Byron said Wednesday.

Since last month, Byron had criticized the proposed addition of northern Baltimore and Harford counties to her district, calling the move a logistical nightmare.

She also said that it would have eroded the structure of Western Maryland, of which Carroll and Frederick are apart.

"Now we'll have a Mason-Dixon district," she said. "The district will run (almost) from Pittsburgh to Wilmington (Del.). This will not keep the integrity of Western Maryland together."

She and the county's other politicians have maintained all along that Carroll County should continue to be a unit.

With Thursday's proposal -- said to be favorable to the governor -- parts of Sykesville, Mount Airy and Eldersburg that were to be ceded to the 8th District will remain in the 6th.

The General Assembly must approve a redrawing of thestate's congressional boundary lines every 10 years, following the census.

Under the earlier proposal, Byron's district would have stretched along the entire northern border of the state, except for Cecil County, and would be home to nearly 598,000 people. Currently, the 6th District comprises 670,000 people.

Thursday's proposal draws the eastern boundary of her district at the Cecil County line, but still will be home to nearly 598,000 people.

By law, all districts must have similar populations. The proposal discussed last week would leave the state with three districts for the Washington suburbs, threefor the Baltimore metropolitan area and one each for Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

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