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Shift in Carroll's district lines a hot topic for 2012

There was pizza, salad, mozzarella sticks and, to the delight of state Sen. Joe Getty, a full house at his Jan. 4 "town meeting," held at J&P Pizza, in Hampstead.

"At the last town meeting in Manchester, we had 25 people," Getty said to the residents who gathered. "We've doubled that crowd. There is more here than I expected."

In his 90-minute presentation, Getty discussed a topic that will be front and center this week as the Maryland General Assembly convenes its 2012 session in Annapolis. When the gavel falls on Jan. 11, state legislators will be faced with reviewing a sweeping change in state Senate and House of Delegates districts.

Every 10 years, the state is redistricted based on findings from the latest census. The current redistricting plans use data included from the 2010 Census.

In addition to the state redistricting, this year will also see district lines being changed for Congressional seats.

Getty, a Republican, has hosted a series of presentations on the history of redistricting in Maryland as well as the current redistricting plans — and how they will affect Carroll County.

Shifting state lines

The state redistricting plan, unveiled last month by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee, proposes to place the majority of Carroll County — and many of its current legislators — in the 5th District.

Currently, Carroll shares the 5th with the northern part of Baltimore County — with Getty representing both sides of the counties in the Senate. But under the redistricting proposal, the 5th would lose its Baltimore County portion and become a solely Carroll district, encompassing much of the county from Manchester to Taneytown, and extending to Westminster, Union Bridge and Eldersburg north of Liberty Road.

The state's 4th District, which currently represents the western part of Carroll County and much of Frederick County, would become more Frederick-oriented, with only a small part of Carroll County — essentially Mount Airy — in the district.

And the 9th District, which is split between Carroll and Howard counties, would still include part of Eldersburg and Sykesville, but would lose its Carroll-only delegate district — 9B.

A new District 9B would also be shared with Howard, and would extend through the western part of that county to Howard's border with Montgomery County. (See map.)

State Del. Susan Krebs, who currently represents Sykesville and Eldersburg in District 9B, would actually be in the newly redrawn 5th District based on her residence. Krebs said last week that while the county would essentially gain delegates in the proposed restructure, she fears Sykesville and Eldersburg will lose its Carroll-based representation.

She noted that the Town of Sykesville, the Warfield Cultural and Commerce Center and Springfield Hospital would all be in the newly-drawn District 9B, and said the chance that someone from Carroll County would wind up representing that area were, "really, none," because of the majority that would be in Howard County.

The proposal will be formally introduced on the first day of the 2012 General Assembly session. If no changes are made within the first 45 days of the session, the plan becomes law as introduced.

The proposed maps of state legislative districts are available at the website of the State Department of Planning, at http://www.mdp.state.md.us/Redistricting.

New Congressional lines

Meanwhile, under the new congressional redistricting plan, Carroll County will no longer be part of the Congressional District 6 — currently represented by Republican Roscoe Bartlett — but instead will be split between the 1st District, currently represented by Republican Andy Harris, and the 8th District 8, currently represented by Democrat Chris Van Hollen.

In his talk, Getty noted that the congressional plan was challenged in court, but in December, a federal court upheld it. He said, though, that the plan was criticized as being a "blatant gerrymander."

As a result of the new congressional plan, Hampstead and Manchester will be in the same district as the entire Eastern Shore. Much of the rest of the county, along with the majority of Frederick County, will be in a shared district with Montgomery County.

"Do we have to drive to Ocean City to vote?" someone in the audience quipped.

After the presentation, Frank Reitemeyer, of Hampstead, called Getty's talk "informative."

"I personally thought there was a bit too much history," he said. "Most of us were here to find out where we're voting next year."

Linda Birch, of Hampstead, was pleased she came to the session.

"I thought it was extremely informative on why we do redistricting," Birch said.

Many, however, expressed frustration over the result of the redistricting process in general.

"It's all political games that they play," said Michael Farley, who lives in Baltimore County. "It's one side against the other. It's very frustrating."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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