CARVING UP DISTRICT 13
From: Martin G. Madden
Delegate, District 13B
Since my election last year, I have written few letters to the editor. However, Delegate Virginia Thomas' recent pronouncements (Howard County Sun, Dec. 15, Readers write, "Thomas to testify") on legislative redistricting and her allegation that I "chose tosave the Laurel area that straddles Howard and Prince George's Counties" rather than protect the district I represent have forced me to write.
I believe that an objective observer of the facts will see that if anyone is individually responsible for the unfair division of District 13, it is Virginia Thomas, not me.
On Dec. 1, it was reported that Delegate Thomas was hedging her bets on her own redistricting plan for District 13, which she had submitted to the Governor's Advisory Committee. Her plan incorporated "all the same district with the Elkridge area left out because that would be going to Baltimore County," she said.
This was not quite true. Her plan didn't keep allthe district. It also left my Clarksville precinct out, thus separating me from 97 percent of the voters I currently represent.
She also didn't mention that her new district would become a two-member district with two negative results. First, the existing minority population of 13A would have its voting influence greatly diminished. Second, the older areas of North Laurel, Jessup, Savage, Scaggsville and Fulton would now be part of a new district dominated by newer residentsof the county.
In any event, on Dec. 2, when the Governor's Commission released its initial recommendations, Delegate Thomas got the exact plan she asked for: Elkridge was in Baltimore County, I was separated from 23 of my 24 precincts, and a new two-member District 13A was proposed.
Unfortunately for the rest of our county, the commission's initial plan also put 19,000 Ellicott City voters in a Baltimore County district and 5,500 western Howard County voters in Carroll County.
Now, because of the huge outcry by every fair-minded personwho believes in home rule for Howard County, Delegate Thomas had apparently changed her story. In her Dec. 12 letter to your paper, she said she was now going to testify to the Governor's Commission and "will also be suggesting ways that would keep the Elkridge precincts in a Howard County district."
Delegate Thomas also makes the ridiculous, untrue and unfounded statement that instead of protecting the district I represent, I "and others chose to save the Laurel area."
Consistently and from the beginning, I have supported the bipartisan redistricting plan submitted by Sens. Tom Yeager and Chris McCabe. This plan created only two districts by combining Howard's 183,000 population with 19,000 from Laurel in Prince George's. This would give us the required population of 202,828 for two legislative districts.
It keeps everyone and every part of Howard, including Elkridge, represented by Howard countians.