Aspiring delegate fights placement out of district

June 01, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Michele Rosenberg, a 50-year-old political hopeful, can look out her front door and see the 10th District she wants to represent in the House of Delegates. But she can't run there.

The two-term Democratic State Central Committee member from Baltimore's old 42nd District thought redistricting would put the precinct containing her home in Dickeyville on the edge of the new 10th District, which stretches from Randallstown in Baltimore County into the corner of far West Baltimore where she and her family live.

Instead, her house in the 5000 block of W. Forest Park Ave. is over that edge -- across the street from the new 10th -- in West Baltimore's 41st District, where she feels she has no chance to win.

The most frustrating part for her is that the 13th Precinct of Baltimore's 28th Ward, where she has voted for a decade, now is part of the new 10th District. But her home was redistricted into the 12th Precinct, in the 41st District. That's because state planning officials moved the precinct boundary as part of the 1991 redistricting plan to make it conform to a nearby U.S. Census tract line. The change was needed because census tracts are the basis for population calculations in drawing district boundaries, according to Maryland attorney general's office.

Although unhappy about that decision, she had reconciled herself to the situation after complaining repeatedly in 1992 to the attorney general and state planners.

Mrs. Rosenberg and her husband Ted said they have their own lawyer researching to see if there is a way to force the board to allow her to run from the 10th District, but a lawsuit on such technical grounds would be difficult and expensive.

Although the predominantly black district was created to give black candidates a better chance at election, Mrs. Rosenberg, who is white, is convinced she could win a seat by attracting white voters to an integrated ticket.

She would like to run on a ticket with transplanted city Del. Dolores G. Kelley, who is black, and has moved to Randallstown to run for state Senate in the new district.

The new 10th District is 63 percent black, and covers most of the northwestern county neighborhoods populated over the last 20 years by middle-class blacks families who moved from Baltimore City. The 41st District, by way of contrast, is 98 percent black and has incumbent candidates.

A chance to run in a new district where there are no incumbents is a politician's dream. And after eight years of doing party work on the central committee, Mrs. Rosenberg saw this as her big chance.

She felt she would be a natural with her political background, and her roots in both city and county communities. Reared in the Milford Mill area of Baltimore County, Mrs. Rosenberg has lived in the city for 16 years.

But she said she feels victimized by the bureaucracy of the redistricting process.

She said that her precinct boundary line was moved improperly, a charge denied by state and city officials.

The officials argued that precinct boundaries must conform with census tracts to make redistricting work.

With only a month left before the July 5 filing deadline, Mrs. Rosenberg is losing hope, and fears that her hoped-for new career will end up a mirage across Forest Park Avenue.

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