Redrawn district borders opposed Baltimore County voters speak against redistricting plan.

December 11, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

Edward Sealover was born and reared in East Baltimore. But he moved to Baltimore County almost 50 years ago, and he doesn't want anything to do with city politics.

That's why he came to Annapolis last night to protest a proposed legislative redistricting plan that would put his Dundalk home in a district dominated by city voters.

Who knows, he says, he might end up paying the legendarily high city property tax rate if the district plan is enacted.

"Once they get their foot in the door, they can do anything," said Sealover, a retired steelworker.

His district is one of six that would cross the city-Baltimore County boundary, a proposal that has ignited county politicians.

The plan lays out 47 districts for the 188 members of the General Assembly, based on the 1990 census. The districts will be used for the 1994 and 1998 legislative elections.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer can change the commission's plan before submitting a proposal to the legislature next month. If the legislature cannot agree on changes to the governor's plan within 45 days, it becomes law.

At least 200 people from eastern Baltimore County came down on buses to last night's hearing. Another group from the west side of the county protested being put in another city-dominated district.

At least 40 of the state's 188 legislators attended the crowded hearing.

The central feature of the plan is a new, black-dominated district in the Liberty Road area that takes in voters in both the city and Baltimore County. The district, coupled with the commission's decision to maintain eight city-dominated districts, could force as many as four county incumbents to run against other incumbents.

The county and city would have 15 districts, eight dominated by the city, seven by the county. County lawmakers are proposing instead to give each jurisdiction seven districts and have one overlap.

The plan has been criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which says it doesn't create enough black-dominated districts in Prince George's County and Baltimore.

Republicans say the plan packs Republicans into districts with populations well above the state average.

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