Proposed redistricting plan moves Catonsville out of District 10

Under the legislative redistricting plan proposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley's Redistricting Advisory Committee, the northernmost portion of Catonsville will no longer be represented by District 10 and state Sen. Delores Kelley.

The plan, to be presented to the Maryland General Assembly this week, calls for the southern border of District 10 to be pushed from Baltimore National Pike to the area north of Interstate 70.

That area would become a new subdistrict, designated 44B, and represented by one of Baltimore city's six state senators.

Democrat Verna Jones-Rodwell has represented District 44 since 2003.

Redistricting occurs every 10 years to reflect shifts in the population as recorded by the most recent census, which in this case was in 2010.

District 44A, a strip that runs from near the center of Baltimore City to its western border with Woodlawn and Catonsville, has 39,000 people.

Of that population, 88 percent are black and 9 percent are white.

District 44B would have 78,000 people, of which 56 percent are black and 33 percent are white.

Legislators in the Senate and House have 45 days to make changes to the proposed map, but if they can't agree in that time period, the redistricting panel's recommendations become law.

Jones-Rodwell said she did not oppose the changes.

"As long as we keep a mutual perspective on making sure resources come to this region, I think it's fine," Jones-Rodwell said.

The addition of the subdistrict in the county comes after a drastic drop in the population of what is now District 44, an area entirely inside the city.

Since 2000, the population has shrunk by 25,144, more than any other district in the state.

Under the proposed redistricting, District 44B would have two delegates and District 44A would have one, Jones-Rodwell said.

Having represented District 10 since 1995, Kelley, the county's only black senator, said she doesn't want to lose any of her constituents.

"People write and email me regularly with their ideas," Kelley said. "I enjoy the civic involvement."

The expansion of her district and others is enough to make Kelley think the proposal is illegal.

"It's not even about feelings. I'm absolutely sure that the lines drawn for this district are unconstitutional," Kelley said. "I'm sure there's going to be significant changes."

Kelley said the unconstitutionality is because many of the districts, including the proposed District 10, are not compact.

"They've done a lot of cutting here, in ways that I think are atrocious," Kelley said.

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