Balto. Co.delegation OKs remap proposal Despite a show of unity, delegation is still sharply divided over the blueprint.

October 23, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

A sharply divided Baltimore County delegation has approved a legislative redistricting plan that has Democrats and Republicans angry.

Still, leaders of the majority faction of the delegation claim that by submitting one plan to the governor's commission, the delegation's united front might prevent city legislators from extending their district boundaries into the county.

Redistricting takes place after each national census to realign political boundaries to account for population shifts. The General Assembly is to vote on new districts during the regular 90-day session starting in January.

The county's House delegation voted 11-9 Monday night to approve a Senate delegation plan. Del. Joseph Bartenfelder, D-8th, said he abstained in protest against the haste of the vote, and delegation chairman Del. E. Farrell Maddox, D-6th, was absent. Maddox was in the hospital for treatment of a heart ailment.

The county plan includes two controversial features:

* It would create a single-delegate subdistrict in the majority black community along lower Liberty Road, and attaches it to the mostly Republican, rural 10th district that covers most of the north county. Politically active blacks and north county Republicans argue that it is wrong to remove the urban sections of lower Liberty Road from the 11th legislative district because it would isolate and politically cripple the county's growing black community.

* It would move four heavily Democratic precincts in Hillendale along the east side of Loch Raven Boulevard near the city line from the 9th District into Senate delegation chairman Thomas L. Bromwell's 8th legislative district, in exchange for several mostly Republican precincts in the Long Green Valley now in the 8th.

Bromwell, who won re-election last year by a 2,455-vote margin, would theoretically see his 1994 chances bolstered by the addition of Democratic voters and the jettisoning of Republican precincts where he lost to Republican Willie Rush.

However, the change moves incumbent Del. John J. Bishop, R-9th, into Bromwell's district, too, and robs freshman Towson Democrat Del. Gerry Brewster of his strongest 9th District precincts. Brewster, who voted against the plan, would be left in an overwhelmingly Republican district.

An angry Brewster said Bishop "would make a very fine state senator. The name 'Senator Bishop' has a definite ring to it," Brewster said, suggesting that the Towson Republican could run against Bromwell and beat him in 1994.

Bromwell said, "If I could have done it any other way, I would have."

A shift of GOP precincts out of the 8th District also would hurt two freshmen 8th District Republican delegates, Al Redmer and James Ports, by weakening their voting base.

The west side squabble centers on whether the new black subdistrict should be attached to the 10th or the 11th district.

Maryland has 47 legislative districts. Each has one senator and three delegates. In most districts, delegates run at large. However, the legislature has created single-delegate subdistricts in the past to ensure that certain areas are represented when districts cross political boundaries. When subdistricts are created, candidates compete only in the subdistricts in which they live.

In this case, the delegation is proposing a minority-dominated subdistrict with one House member and another subdistrict with two members elected at large.

The two-member at large subdistrict in the 10th would pit all three Republican incumbents from the north county against each other, as well as Democrat Lawrence A. LaMotte, who represents a single-member district along the Carroll County border.

The Republican incumbents are most unhappy with the plan.

Republican Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who represents the north county 10th district, said, "The Democrats are panic-stricken about Republican gains, and they're trying to divert the democratic process. You can be pretty sure this will go to court."

She criticized the way that Del. Richard Rynd, D-11th, chaired the meeting by in Maddox's absense, charging that the vote went forwarddespite having no maps or numbers of voters to consider.

Democratic State Sen. Janice Piccinini, who represents the 10th, is also opposes the changes. She said the proposed change removes almost every Democratic voter from her district, and divides or removes virtually every recognized community as well. She said she was surprised and dismayed at the Senate delegation vote on the plan Friday, because she was not able to get a map that would show her district's fate.

State Sen. Paula Hollinger and Dels. Leon Albin and Rynd, the Democratic incumbents in the 11th, defended the plan to move their district farther northwest to recapture Jewish voters who have moved from Randallstown and Liberty Road.

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