Boschert's Redistricting Favored By Council Majority

October 18, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

A majority of County Council members favor a redistricting plan thatwould divide Shipley's Choice while leaving Crofton in South County and the Broadneck peninsula intact.

Councilman David Boschert, D-Crownsville, will introduce a bill Monday night to adopt the map. Three council members have signed on as co-sponsors, one short of the five votes the measure needs to pass. A fifth member who had agreed to co-sponsor the bill begged off but says he still is "leaning toward" the plan.

The bill essentially rejects the recommendation of the Charter Revision Commission -- a group appointed by council members that spent four months studying the issue.

"I'm a firm believer in community integrity," Boschert said. "This bill affects the least amount of precincts of any plan. This is the fair and equitable way of addressing this issue. In this economy, we have a lot of important items on the agenda, and the less political this process is, the better."

Council members Diane Evans, R-Arnold, Carl "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena, and George Bachman, D-Linthicum, are co-sponsoring Boschert's bill. A public hearing on the proposal could be held as soon as Nov. 4.

The plan moves only six of 132 precincts. It was first proposed by the county Republican State Central Committee and Charter Commission member Muriel Carter, who later voted for the commission's recommended plan. Two weeks ago, commission member Mark Anderson offered the plan being proposed by Boschert to the council, saying he disagreed with the commission's plan.

Charter Commission Chairman Robert D. Agee questioned why Boschert was moving ahead so quickly. The council has until next August to approve new districts.

"I'm not quite sure why the rush," Agee said. "Is it designed to stimulate discussion or restrict it? It's a political process and the council can do as it pleases, but I hope that if the commission's report is differed from, that there be a reason for it. I hope there is a public hearing on our plan as well."

Agee said that making the fewest number of changes should not be a goal of redistricting.

"They say it only moves six precincts, but that presupposes that the other maps weren't political -- but they were political 10 years ago," he said. "They made political decisions based on situations that existed at that time that are nolonger relevant. These maps were made by men. They weren't handed down by Moses."

The commission's map moves 12 precincts and splits five others. It keeps the communities of Shipley's Choice and Berrywood with Severna Park in District 5, represented by Diane Evans. A previous map had removed Berrywood from the district, drawing opposition from Severna Park residents.

But the plan moves two precincts in the Lower Broadneck peninsula that are currently part of District 5 into the Annapolis-area district across the Severn River, despite requests from Broadneck residents that they remain where they are.

The commission's map also moves Crofton out of a district with South County and places it in a district with Maryland City -- represented by Boschert -- a move South County residents had requested but some Crofton residents opposed.

The map Boschert will propose leaves Crofton-- the political football of the redistricting process -- in South County, a move that affects Council Chairwoman Virginia Clagett, D-West River, who nearly lost to an unknown Crofton resident last year.

Boschert said he didn't propose his plan to keep Crofton out of his district.

"Whoever gets Crofton gains the most," Boschert said. "Crofton is a community that is very active. They are involved. They get out and vote."

He said he wants Crofton in South County because of all the growth West County is facing in the next several years. "Idon't think it's to anyone's advantage to have all the major subdivisions in one district," he said.

Boschert's plan leaves Broadneck intact but divides Shipley's Choice, drawing opposition from leaders of that community.

"I'm deeply disappointed," said Jeff DeCaro, president of the Shipley's Choice Homeowners Association. "It's basically gerrymandering at its basest form, with politicians counting voteswithout taking into consideration the interests of the community."

The plan also is likely to be opposed by Severn residents, because it divides that community more than the commission's plan.

Boschert's plan also maintains the current concentration of minority residents in the Annapolis-area district; the commission's plan had increased the concentration slightly at the request of black leaders.

Boschert may have a fifth vote in Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, who signed on as a co-sponsor, but then decided he wanted to consider the issue further before declaring his support.

"I probably amleaning toward that plan, but when I thought about it more, I didn'twant to make a hasty decision," he said.

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, said she isn't happy about losing the community of Herald Harbor to the West County district under Boschert's plan.

"I would not support it at this point, but we'll see what happens

at the public hearing," Lamb said. "I am anxious to see what other alternatives their are."

Reporter Robert Lee contributed to this story.

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