Harford districts cut to 6 choices

The Harford County Redistricting Commission narrowed the number of maps of proposed County Council districts from more than 20 to five Wednesday night but couldn't reach a consensus on a final recommendation.

The three Republicans — Chris Pate, Jason Gallion and Ben Lloyd — were assigned to create district maps based on 2010 census data. The commission is all Republican because in the latest general election, Democrats didn't get the minimum percentage of votes required by the county charter to participate in the process.

Starting with more than 20 maps, the comissioners narrowed the list to five examples of what could be done, though not all of them were ideal for the county.

The commissioners wanted at least one map to show a Havre de Grace district that included Level, Darlington and Churchville; one to show the fewest changes to the current map; one of a completely rural District D that includes Churchville, which currently represents the northern part of the county; one that combines Aberdeen, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Perryman and Riverside; and one that keeps the Abingdon precinct north of Interstate 95 as together as possible.

Although the commissioners said they wouldn't necessarily pick any one of those options as their final recommendation, they wanted all six to be put in the report to show those five examples.

The commissioners challenged one another to rank the six maps before the next meeting, where they could potentially pick a final recommendation. The County Council must receive the recommendation by Oct. 1, but because the council does not meet on that date, it must receive it by its last September meeting.

One thing the commissioners took into consideration during the meeting was school district maps because starting last November, citizens were able to vote for school board members.

With that in mind, commissioners aimed to keep county election districts in line with school districts. Lloyd said it was completely impossible to make the maps perfect, but they would try to keep school districts limited to two to three voting districts.

The other big issue the board had that was out of their control was the way the lines were drawn for precincts.

Ultimately, however, they did decide that they had exhausted all options in terms of drawing new maps.

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