Committee did everything citizens wanted it to avoid

Letter to the editor

October 17, 2011

Can you say gerrymander?

After attending many of the Howard County Council redistricting meetings a few things became clear. The citizens of Howard County specifically wanted a few things. They wanted neighborhoods and especially communities kept together, they wanted the least amount of people moved, Elkridge wanted a conversation about a map that would put all of Elkridge into one district, and the citizens did not want any party gerrymandering.

Three maps were designed. More testimony was had and two maps came to the surface as the best alternatives. Map 100 brought all of Elkridge into one district, but caused a lot of other county changes. Map 300 made fewer changes and worked very hard to get the district numbers correct. This map, however, moved the Wheatfield area (along with Ellicott City Fire Station No. 2) into Columbia's District 2 and then moved another part of District 2 into Ellicott City's District 1 (for what reason?).

Testimony was had and many Wheatfield area residents came to the hearings and asked to have their area left in District 1. So instead of tweaking one of the two maps liked by the citizenry, what happens? Map 200, the most disliked map at all of the hearings, is adopted for approval.

This map moves tens of thousands, leaves the districts disproportional, moves Dorsey Search out of Columbia and into Ellicott City (including the Fairway Hills Golf Course area) and moves the Wheatfield into District 2 along with the Ellicott City fire station, doing all four of the things that the citizenry asked the committee not to do.

The vote was 4 to 3, distinctly along party lines. David Marker should be ashamed at the blatant political gerrymandering. The citizens of Howard County deserve better.

Diane Butler

Ellicott City

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