Two proposed changes in legislative districts would give South Carroll, the county's most populous area, its own delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, if a plan suggested by Del. Joseph M. Getty wins favor with a state redistricting committee.
"South Carroll has been underrepresented in the county's political power structure for too long," Getty said. "It deserves its own delegate and has the population to support that."
Under his plan, Carroll would be split into four single-member districts. Should that fail, he said yesterday he would favor three at-large delegates and one elected from South Carroll, which includes the growing Sykesville and Eldersburg communities.
"Single-member districts offer the best opportunity for constituents to elect someone close to home as their representative," said Getty, a two-term Republican. "I would like all four of our delegates elected by district."
Getty made his proposal last night at a redistricting committee hearing at Frederick Community College.
"I appreciate the work you put into this," Secretary of State John T. Willis, a Carroll County native, told Getty last night. "And other than putting my mother in a district she doesn't want to be in, it looks pretty good."
The redistricting committee is conducting public hearings across Maryland before making its recommendation to Gov. Parris N. Glendening. The governor will create the plan and submit it to the General Assembly on the first day of its 2002 session.
"Republicans statewide are looking for single districts and it's a good idea to submit this plan," said Sen. Larry E. Haines, chairman of Carroll's all-GOP delegation. "But, for Republicans in Maryland, redistricting is a spectator sport. We basically have no influence over what happens."
If the Getty proposal wins approval, it could create a problem for Dels. Carmen Amedori and Nancy R. Stocksdale, who would reside in the newly configured Westminster district.
"This is not a partisan plan and does not protect incumbents," Getty said. "It would not be the Republican plan for Carroll County."
Amedori, who is serving her first term in the House of Delegates, said, "I guess one of us would have to move to South Carroll."
While she supports Getty, she doubts moving will be necessary.
"The governor would love to see four of us running in a three-member district so one of us would be bumped off," Amedori said.
Del. Donald B. Elliott of New Windsor, whose district is split between Carroll and Frederick counties, said, "I support the single-member district concept across the whole state, quite frankly, and I certainly support Delegate Getty's proposal for Carroll County. I think it provides for the most democratic process."
In South Carroll, residents have long complained they have no voice in government. The addition of a delegate dedicated to South Carroll issues would be a step in the right direction, said Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman.
"It is certainly better than what we have now, but I would like to see us have better representation all the way around," said Herman, who has often called South Carroll "the county's neglected child."
South Carroll's population has climbed from 17,800 to 26,000 in 10 years, and the county has not kept pace with the demand for infrastructure. Roads are congested; nearly all the schools are surrounded by portable classrooms; and the county has had to impose restrictions on water use three of the past four summers.
"The problems we face in South Carroll will not be solved by one delegate, but this is a step forward," Herman said.
Nimrod Davis, vice chairman of Freedom Area Citizens Council, an unofficial liaison between the county and residents, said he would fully support the proposal and was thinking of possible candidates.
"This will help us a great deal," said Davis. "I would push for a moderate Republican who could get the rest of our delegation to work with him or her."
The population will continue to grow and should have representation, said Davis.
Getty's proposal is based on census figures that show Carroll's 20 percent increase in population to 150,897 in the past decade. Ideally, a single-member district should have a population of 37,564.
Getty said South Carroll's population is right on the mark for a single-member district.
Haines said he would like the delegation to represent Carroll only, but fears Baltimore City's declining population might push district boundaries into Baltimore County and from there into Carroll.
"Carroll's population figures show they should have four delegates within county boundaries," the senator said. "We should maintain the area."