State plan joins city, Balto. Co. districts New districts would straddle the city line.

December 19, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore and Baltimore County share a lot of things -- roads, TV stations and water. Now, they're about to share members of the Maryland General Assembly.

More than a dozen legislators would represent both the county and city in Annapolis, under a plan released yesterday by the governor's special redistricting panel.

City legislators say the proposal is vital to the city's future. Their county colleagues are aghast at the prospect of the city's problems creeping across the border.

"It's totally unfair to Baltimore County and Baltimore County voters," said Del. E. Farrell Maddox, chairman of the county's House delegation.

"I'm not a city legislator anymore when this passes," said Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, whose city district would then include 25,000 Baltimore County residents. "I'm a legislator who happens to live in a city precinct."

The plan, Hoffman said, certainly helps the city. "But it helps the region long term," she said. "The economic fate of Baltimore City and Baltimore County are absolutely dependent on each other."

The panel's plan now goes to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who may tinker with it before sending his own version to the General Assembly next month. While the legislature can change the map, many lawmakers predict whatever plan the governor submits will become enacted.

"At first blush, he thinks they did a good job with it," said Page Boinest, a spokesman for the governor.

The new map will set the districts for all 188 members of the legislature for the 1994 and 1998 elections.

The five-member panel, which included the two presiding officers of the state legislature, massaged their map over the last NTC two weeks in response to stinging criticism from county lawmakers. They reduced from six to five the number of districts that cross the city-county line. They also restored all of Essex into one district rather than two, and put Towson back into a Baltimore County district, rather than a city-dominated one.

The revised plan creates a new, single-member House district in Catonsville as part of one of the city-county districts. That will mean the loss of one delegate from the city. Baltimore County, however, will show no net gain in elected officials because it also lost a delegate seat to Howard County.

Howard County will be split into three districts instead of five as the panel had contemplated.

The plan also sets up a fierce battle in Hoffman's district, the 42nd, in northwest Baltimore and the Pikesville-Ruxton area in the county. Six incumbent delegates live in the district and would be fighting for three seats if all stayed put and ran again.

In all, Baltimore City will lose one of its nine districts. Four of the eight city-dominated districts will be heavily black. Three will be mainly white. The eighth, the 43rd District in northeast Baltimore, is 61 percent minority in the panel's final plan. It was 46 percent minority in the panel's first plan.

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