By Jon Meoli, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:14 PM EST, January 3, 2012
The proposal for new state legislative district lines that will be introduced in the Maryland General Assembly next week would mean big changes for legislators representing the Towson-based 42nd District.
Under the proposed plan introduced in December by Gov. Martin O'Malley's Redistricting Advisory Committee, the 42nd District would see its boundaries expand greatly into the northern area of the county, stretching from the city line at Towson into Hereford, Sparks and the Prettyboy Reservoir.
"I actually drove it a couple days ago. It took two hours," said State Sen. Brochin, a Democrat who currently represents the 42nd.
"It's two different districts," he said. "It's Towson and way, way up north."
The redistricting process is required every 10 years to reflect population changes according to the census — in this case the 2010 version.
The new boundary proposal will be introduced on the first day of the General Assembly session, which opens Jan. 11 in Annapolis. Legislators in the Senate and House can make changes to the proposed map, but if they can't agree, the map proposed by the redistricting panel becomes law after 45 days.
The new parts of redrawn 42nd District are considered heavily Republican, which could present a problem for Brochin, a Towson-based Democrat.
"It certainly makes it challenging, but I've gotten a lot of crossover votes in the past," Brochin said. "I'm going to spend the next three years introducing myself to those voters, and letting them know my fiscal record, which is to prioritize and spend wisely rather than raise taxes. It's a pretty simple strategy, but that's what I'm going to do."
In addition to being expanded north, the 42nd District would also be divided into subdistricts, District 42A and 42B, for the three House of Delegate seats that will come from the district. (See map.)
Subdistrict 42A would be represented by one delegate, and would be the part of district contained between Loch Raven Boulevard and Charles Street. State Del. Steve Lafferty, a Democrat, lives in the area incorporated in the 42A section.
The 42B section would have two delegates, and would be the part of the district extending from the Beltway deep into northern Baltimore County, touching Carroll and Harford county borders.
For GOP, musical chairs?
As drawn, the 42B subdistrict would include the residences of incumbent Dels. Bill Frank and Susan Aumann as well as the residences of Wade Kach, a delegate who currently represents the 5th District, and Joseph Boteler, a delegate in the 8th District.
All are Republicans, and all four would have to run against each other for the two seats in order to stay in office.
"We (Republicans) don't have too much influence on the redistricting map, to say the least," Frank said.
"I think the Democrats purposely put us in the same district together," he said. "That's my unmistakable conclusion. They know where we live and which precincts we vote in, so they did it deliberately, I'm sure."
Boteler, who lives in Carney, said the proposal is "very disappointing" in that it divides a community that is already represented by three County Council members and two congressmen for the purpose of consolidating political power.
"This is nothing but pure partisan politics, and that's not what redistricting was ever to be about," Boteler said.
"They basically went right around my street to take me out," he said. "If you walk one street over, you're in the 8th. If you walk across Joppa Road, which is nearby, you're in the 8th.
"This was done by design to force four well-know Republicans in a district … to compete for the seats available," he said.
Kach agreed, saying the split "does a disservice to the people of northern Baltimore County."
He's in 42B because the redistricting panel placed his current district, the 5th, completely into Carroll County. Under the proposal, the other half of northern Baltimore County outside the 42nd will be in District 7, which also includes western Harford County.
Kach said he's been looking into the possibility of having the commission's decision reversed and reunifying what was previously District 5B in Baltimore County.
"We have quite a community up there, and it's not by chance that northern Baltimore County looks the way it does," Kach said. "It takes a lot of effort to keep things going, preserve farms and open space… I just think it's vital to that area that they be together, and as I said, there are a lot of challenges up there."
Kach said he sat down this past week with Frank, Aumann and Boteler to discuss at the situation.
While he said there was no sense in making plans before the map is finalized, Kach doubts all four will run against each other for the two seats.
"There are other options out there, so we'll just have to see what happens," Kach said. "I think the main thing that voters need to understand is that I was elected in 2010 to represent District 5B…and that is my job for the next three years.
"That's not to say that I'm not going to work in the new district — I used to represent most of 42B — but my priority is my district."
Shifting the 11th District
Redistricting will also bring changes to the 11th District. Currently 11th District Sen. Bobby Zirkin, a Democrat, said the district would lose some western precincts along the county line with Carroll in exchange for what amounts to a unified Pikesville district.
"I know lots of people in the new areas, so on the one hand, I'm excited that Pikesville is reunified for the first time in 20 years," Zirkin said. "I grew up on the side that was not in the 11th, and I have a lot of friends who still live there.
"On the other hand, I'm very disappointed about losing the parts of my district that I'm losing. I've come to really love representing Reisterstown, Randallstown, and some of those areas," he said.
In exchange for Pikesville precincts that Zirkin would pick up in the eastern part of his district — which would extend to Interstate 83 and also include two Cockeysville precincts — he would lose parts of Randallstown, Reisterstown and Owings Mills to the 10th District.
Zirkin said he has heard concerns from residents who would no longer be represented by him — that area would be in 10th District Sen. Delores Kelly's district — but he said if he's not able to get some of those areas back, he'll continue to act as if he were their senator.
"Fortunately and unfortunately, I'm not the one writing the map," Zirkin said. "I was lobbying along with every legislator."