Carroll Lawmakers' Redistricting Plan Remains Intact

November 24, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

A plan submitted by Carroll lawmakers that would improve the county's representation in the state legislature has been kept intact thus far, said an assistant to the governor's committee recommending new state legislative boundaries.

But the delegation's proposal to create one senatorial district entirely within Carroll could be disrupted by the outcome of current negotiations between the Baltimore and Baltimore County delegations, say Carroll legislators.

The possible creation of several joint city-county districts could have a ripple effect, forcing Baltimore County to add Carroll precincts to reach the target population for forming a district.

Pressures also could spiral north from Montgomery County, whose growing population warrants expanded districts.

"So far, under deliberations,all precincts in the 4th and 5th districts haven't changed from the maps submitted," said Michel Lettre, a state Office of Planning assistant to the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee, on Thursday.

"But that doesn't preclude precincts outside the districts being attached."

The committee is expected to approve a redistricting plan for the state's 47 legislative districts for public review Monday,after receiving a revised proposal for the Baltimore region. A stateattorney general's opinion advised that a new majority-black senatorial district must be created straddling the city-county western border, under the federal Voting Rights Act.

The plan supported by Carroll legislators and four Western Maryland counties would create a District 5 encompassing 100,961 of Carroll's 123,372 population. It would include all of central and eastern Carroll and drop a western portion of Baltimore County.

Baltimore County residents now comprise a minority of Republican Sen. Larry E. Haines' district and a majority of Democratic Delegate Lawrence A. LaMotte's subdistrict 5B, which also includes Eldersburg. The Myers Election District in the Union Mills-Silver Run area would be added to District 5 from District 4.

Delegates Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, and Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, represent subdistrict 5A.

One senator and three delegates serve each district.

Under the delegation's plan, District 4 would include western Carroll and most of Frederick County. Democratic Sen. Charles H. Smelser and Republican Delegate Donald B. Elliott are Carroll's representatives. A piece of western Howard would be dropped.

Carroll legislators have lobbied to keep the county aligned with Western Maryland counties and separated from Baltimore-area jurisdictions.Carroll has more in common politically and philosophically with its western neighbors, they argue.

Dixon said he believes the delegation's preference will prevail.

"There's pressure to move out from the city, but I think it will be confined to Baltimore City and County," he said.

Elliott said encroachment into Carroll could be necessary for practical reasons.

"We can't be sure what the impact will be," he said.

Political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years, based on census figures, to account for population shifts. Ideally, eachdistrict should have a population of 101,733 to provide equal representation.

Following a public hearing, the governor will present a redistricting plan to the legislature. If the General Assembly has not adopted another plan by the 45th day of the session, the governor'splan becomes law.

"I'm sure we'll see many, many plans before we settle on one," said Elliott.

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