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Board of Elections, candidates prepare for redistricting to take effect

ElectionsShirley Nathan-Pulliam

Many registered voters in Catonsville should check the voter registration cards they recently received.

They may find themselves in a brand-new district for the next primary election, scheduled for June 24, 2014, thanks to the new district boundaries drawn by the General Assembly in 2012.

Catonsville residents now in District 10 and those in the western part of Catonsville now in District 12 will become part of District 44B, the Baltimore County portion of District 44. District 44A will include the western part of Baltimore City.

There are more than 78,000 county residents in District 44B and just over 39,000 city residents in District 44A.

Katie Brown, election director for the Baltimore County Board of Elections, said it has been a lengthy process to prepare and distribute voter cards listing the new district information.

The new Catonsville district was the first in a lengthy process, Brown said.

"We have to go into the system and change all the addresses, all the streets, to all the new districts," Brown said. "We have to look up all the streets that are part of that election precinct and then code them with the new council, legislative or congressional district."

This process is done ZIP code by ZIP code for all 49 ZIP codes in Baltimore County. Cards are mailed out as soon as each one is complete, and those for voters now part of the new district were mailed Aug.1.

Though the new voter cards will show new districts, the effects of redistricting do not take effect until after the 2014 election, which can create confusion, Brown said.

"They're going to get cards with the new district on them, but those people will not represent them until 2014," Brown said.

"You're still in the same district now, even through the lines have changed," she said. "You'd call who has been representing you that was elected back in 2010."

Residents who had been accustomed to being represented by longtime legislators such as Dels. Emmett Burns (member since 1995), Adrienne Jones (first elected 1998) and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (member since 1995) and state Sen. Delores Kelley (member since 1995) in District 10 now have three new faces to consider as their representatives in Annapolis.

Those first-time candidates for the two open delegate seats in District 44B are getting a head start learning the new district.

Pat Young, Rainier Harvey and Charles Sydnor all have their own approach for tackling a district that stretches from Lochearn, near Milford Mill, across Woodlawn and Windsor Mill to Catonsville.

"You can't count out any particular area," Young said. "You want to make sure you're hitting everywhere, and that includes spaces that aren't necessarily in the district but could play a role in the overall success of the region."

"You do this kind of wraparound the business district of Catonsville [in 44B]," Young said. "So you're not necessarily reaching into Old Catonsville for votes, but you're reaching out to the community because the decisions that you're going to make and the impact that you're going to have can affect them.

"I'm going around and I'm meeting local folks," he said. "They're not so much concerned with the line but what exactly you're going to do to help."

Harvey is taking a similar approach, utilizing experience working for Del. Jones and endorsement from Del. Nathan-Pulliam.

Nathan-Pulliam is running for senator in the new 44th district against incumbent state Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell.

"Because she [Jones] was the speaker pro tem, though she represented District 10, she really had no boundaries," Harvey said. "I've had opportunities in the past 15 years [working for her] to meet people in all the adjacent districts.

"What I realized is that, not only as a candidate do I need to get around to the community associations, but I also need to get around to the various groups in the community," Harvey said. "Because we are a very diverse people, this is a very diverse district.

"When we go to community meetings, I don't ask for addresses," he said. "I make it a point to talk to everyone, to take everyone's hand."

Sydnor is taking a slightly different approach. He is hosting and attending numerous meetings and events, but plans to remain within the new district's boundaries.

"This district has 18 precincts and three of the 18 are new," Sydnor said. "Since I've been working with the 10th District's Democratic Club for so long, it's not that big of a difference.

"It's just all about your planning," he said. "This has happened before, so it's not a challenge.

"You stay where the people are in the district," Sydnor said. "You focus on the district."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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