Two councilmanic redistricting plans in Harford debated

October 17, 2001|By Lane Harvey Brown | By Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

The Harford County Council heard public comment last night on two councilmanic redistricting proposals - including strong feelings from some saying that council members would ultimately act in their own interest, not that of their constituents.

"I've heard the word on the street ... that this is a done deal," said Brent Slutzky of Fountain Green, who told the council he favored creating a district for the fast-growing Abingdon area.

Some of the community criticism was sparked by Councilman Lance Miller's introduction of a counterproposal - which would largely retain current districts - on the same evening last month that the redistricting commission presented its recommendations.

The commission's plan, called Option 17, would put Aberdeen and Aberdeen Proving Ground in the same district with Havre de Grace. It would also create a separate Abingdon district to give the county's fastest-growing area its own council member.

Additionally, the proposal would split the northern District D into two districts and pit Miller against fellow Republican incumbent Robert Wagner in the next election.

Miller's proposal, Option 2, was also one of the commission's plans. It would not split District D or create an Abingdon district. Aberdeen and Aberdeen Proving Ground would remain in separate districts.

Aberdeen Mayor Douglas Wilson and some residents, including Ruthann Young, spoke against putting Aberdeen and Havre de Grace in the same district. Young used an apple and orange to illustrate how different the two municipalities are. She placed them in a woven basket and noted, "To put them into the same political basket is a mistake."

Aberdeen resident Gary Gerdum, however, said the two towns could benefit. "If we had one strong representative on the County Council, I think we'd be much, much better off," he said. "I really don't feel like the town of Aberdeen has ever had good representation."

Slutzky's father, Richard Slutzky, and Jerry Lacey, both of Aberdeen, also argued that Abingdon should have its own district. But David Carey, chairman of the county's Democratic Central Committee, said that Option 2 was a good compromise because "there are more communities than council seats."

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