Four-district plan offered in Carroll

Proposal makes way for a 5-member Board of Commissioners in county

October 26, 2007|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,Sun reporter

A new proposal from a Carroll County state delegate aims to resolve a protracted struggle to create districts that would pave the way for a five-member Board of Commissioners, as approved in a referendum vote nearly three years ago.

The plan, designed by Del. Donald Elliott calls for one commissioner-at-large and four others elected by district, essentially allowing the county's citizens to vote for two commissioners, Elliott said.

Now, there are three members on Carroll's Board of Commissioners.

"This proposal is a compromise," said Elliott, a Republican who represents District 4B. He and several fellow county delegates have voted to draft a bill based on the plan and then present it for public hearings, he said.

"This is just a first step, a working paper so to speak," Elliott said.

All four of the proposed districts have about the same ratio of Democrats to Republicans as the county at large, said Sen. Allan Kittleman, who noted that such a distribution should not adversely affect either party.

"I think it makes sense," Kittleman said.

But the decision to move forward with drafting a bill does not mean the delegation has voted on the plan itself.

"We want to hear what the citizens have to say now," said Kittleman, a Republican who represents District 9.

In 2004, citizens approved a referendum to switch from three commissioners elected at large to five elected by district.

A bipartisan redistricting committee appointed by the commissioners at that time favored a map known as Option 2, which divided South Carroll, placing Sykesville and Eldersburg in different districts. Town officials and many residents also supported that map -- a position the then-commissioners said the delegation should honor.

But the county delegation chose Option 1, a map that kept the South Carroll communities together but placed North Carroll's neighboring towns of Hampstead and Manchester in separate districts. Last year, the legislative session ended without lawmakers approving the map bill, which had made it through the House but never came to a vote in the Senate.

Elliott's proposal would keep Hampstead and Manchester in the same area, and carve a South Carroll district that includes Sykesville and Eldersburg. Elliott also requested that the map be drawn along delegation district lines as much as possible, he said.

"This sort of gives the compromise of both [options]," Del. Tanya Thornton Shewell said of the proposal. The District 5A Republican added that she and other delegates "just felt like we needed to bring this forward" and get a dialogue going.

Elliott said he hopes residents will look at the new map and see that earlier concerns have been addressed.

Del. Susan W. Krebs acknowledged Elliott for taking the initiative to move toward a resolution.

"At the end of the day, we want to get a district map passed," said Krebs, a Republican who represents District 9B, adding that it is time to put the past conflicts aside. "That's the goal."

arin.gencer@baltsun.com

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