Metropolitan Redistricting Plan

December 03, 1991

Chalk one up for regionalism in the maps unveiled last night by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee. Under the panel's plan, Baltimore City shares four of its districts with Baltimore County while the county shares two of its districts with the city. Added to the two districts Baltimore County shares with Howard and the one district it shares with Harford, the new legislative map gives Baltimore a distinctly metropolitan aura.

That should be a decided plus for the region in Annapolis after the 1994 election. Metropolitan Baltimore will have 15 legislative districts out of 47, a proportion dictated by the 1990 Census figures. The large number of districts shared by more than one county should foster a broader, less parochial vision among legislators.

In line with the federal Voting Rights Act, the panel created a new minority district in the Randallstown-Woodlawn area of Baltimore County and in the adjoining western sections of the city. It also carved out a subdistrict in Northeast Baltimore as a minority delegate district.

While political incumbents will fuss about the new boundary lines, that is to be expected. Sen. Julian Lapides' mid-city district, for instance, disappears entirely, sliced into five pieces. Sen. Janice Piccinini's north-county district is merged with Sen. F. Vernon Boozer's Towson-area district; the new district, which will lean heavily Republican, puts Democrat Piccinini at a disadvantage.

But most office holders should be satisfied. For instance, while Sen. Barbara Hoffman's northwest city district will expand northward, it will not encroach on Sen. Paula Hollinger's Pikesville area. Sen. George Della's south-city district will add some neighborhoods in Halethorpe and Lansdowne; Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski's east-city district will stretch eastward into small communities near the city-county line; Sen. Tom Bromwell's northeast county district will move south just into the city along the Harford Road/Belair Road corridor, and Sen. John Pica's northeast-city district will march northward to Towson State University and east to Loch Raven Boulevard.

None of these changes is earth-shattering. Some neighborhood groups will be upset by the new configurations, but no redistricting plan will ever satisfy everyone. The committee's proposal, after modifications later this month, will be sent to the governor. It deserves support. This plan gives regionalism a big boost, one that could strengthen metropolitan Baltimore in the State House.

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