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Redistricting reform matters to middle class families

Gerrymandering affects policy, and that makes a difference in Marylanders' lives.

As one who successfully challenged Gov. Parris N. Glendening's blatantly political legislative redistricting plan in court in 2002 and the following year introduced legislation to create a gubernatorial task force to reform our redistricting process, I was pleased to see that Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed a commission to do just that ("Hogan: Redraw district lines," Aug. 7).

Not surprisingly, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller dismissed Governor Hogan's initiative, disingenuously stating that Maryland cannot act until there is a national solution tor redistricting. Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director Pat Murray also criticized Governor Hogan and said that the governor should "focus on issues that impact middle-class families."

Legislative redistricting reform is not simply a matter of preventing incumbent legislators from shaping the election districts from which they run. It directly "impacts middle class families" by eliminating a process that drives candidates to extreme positions on the issues because legislators fear being punished in primary elections by challengers who question their ideological purity. More competitive races in general elections will help reduce polarization and gridlock and create more opportunities for comity, dialogue, moderation and compromise, all of which are needed to solve problems that directly affect the quality of people's lives.

John R. Leopold

The writer is the former Anne Arundel County executive and a former state delegate.

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