Redrawn Districts Favored

Howard Lawmakers Fare Much Better

December 22, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,SUN STAFF

The county's state legislators said a new plan for state legislativedistricts sent to the governor last week is much kinder to Howard County than an earlier plan, but it still slices up generous portions of Columbia, Ellicott City and Elkridge and serves them to Baltimore County.

Like the current map, the plan recommended to the governor puts the county in three senatorial districts. The one recommended Dec. 2 by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee carved the county into five Senate districts, two controlled by Baltimore County, one by Carroll County.

"It's an improvement," said Delegate Robert Flanagan, R-14B, chairman of the Howard County delegation. "It's not our first choice, butit's better than what had been originally proposed."

"In general,I'm very pleased that the commission chose to accept most of the Howard County recommendations," said Sen. Christopher McCabe, R-14.

He noted that the county seat, which the first plan would have put in a Baltimore County-controlled District 11, is back within the Howard County-controlled District 14 and that the western end of the county,which is now represented by Sen. Charles Smelser, a Frederick Countyresident, has been added to District 14.

McCabe said the the new plan would allow the Howard County delegation to be dominated by Howard residents, unlike the previous plan.

Under the new plan, countyresidents will be represented by 11 senators and delegates, with county voters in control of seven of those seats.

The earlier plan would have put county residents in districts represented by 18 legislators, but county voters could have controlled only six seats.

Sevenof the nine members of the county delegation now live in the county.

Last week's map was recommended to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who must submit a redistricting plan to the General Assembly for approval next month.

Satisfaction with the plan diminishes in the western Columbia villages of Wilde Lake, Harper's Choice, Town Center andHickory Ridge, which the plan would place in District 12, represented by Democratic Sen. Nancy Murphy.

"I'm kind of disappointed that my senator is going to be from Baltimore County, and probably won't know very much about my neighborhood," said Michael Deets, the Columbia Council representative for Wilde Lake village in western Columbia.

Kittleman said the plan appeared to be designed to preserve the political future of Murphy, whose district was shifted to make room fora new minority-dominated Baltimore City/Baltimore County district.

Murphy was "desperately seeking Democrats," Kittleman said, and there are plenty to be found in Columbia.

The political fortunes of Clarksville Delegate Martin Madden, R-13B, were also cemented with hisnew district, which is similar to the current district he shares with Republican Delegate John Morgan of Laurel. The earlier proposal separated his home precinct from the other 23 he represents.

The proposed 13B is similar to the old one, but it loses neighbor hoods such as Timberview, Hunt Country Estates, Brightfield and Font Hill to a two-delegate 12A district. Only one-sixth of proposed District 12A, which now has three incumbent Democratic delegates in it, is populated with Howard County residents.

Morgan said the remaining areas helped him and Madden unseat Democrats William Bevan and Robert DiPietro of Laurel last year.

Morgan, however, would be in a single-member greater Laurel district dominated by Prince George's County residentswho leaned toward DiPietro, the former mayor of Laurel, in the same election.

He said he has been looking for a new home in the city, and thus would have "Prince George's County" next to his name in the voting booth in 1994.

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