Speak out now about redistricting

In a democracy, the voice of the people is supposed to be heard. And now, as the Democratic legislative mapmakers in Annapolis plan to slice and dice that voice, it is important that Baltimore County residents speak out.

As happens every 10 years after the census, it is the season of legislative redistricting.

All over the county, voters are disconcerted to find their representatives in Annapolis after the 2014 election could become people they know nothing about and who, in turn, know nothing about them.

Demographic changes, as measured in the 2010 census, dictate that boundaries must shift. Changes are supposed to serve citizens so they can have fair and equal representation, not to serve partisan interests

So, are these changes being made in good faith? Looking at the redrawn maps now on the table, it is hard to find that in some instances.

In the northern county, the relatively compact 42nd District, comprising Towson and surrounding neighborhoods, erupts into a two-part district including 42A, which is the Towson core, and 42B, a huge piece of geography that stretches all the way from the county's eastern to western borders.

The creation of 42B splits the northern part of the county, with the 7th District, which would now have one half in the northern county along the Pennsylvania border while the other half hugs the eastern county border and crosses into Harford County. This means voters north of the Prettyboy Reservoir will be sharing legislators with those in Middle River.

While the proposed changes for the 11th District would unify the Pikesville area for the first time in decades, the district would also lose parts of Reisterstown and Owings Mills to the 10th.

On the southwestern side of the county, Catonsville-area residents in the 10th District would find themselves in District 44B, sharing a state senator with constituents in 44A in west Baltimore City.

Meanwhile, the Arbutus area in the southwest county, which was in 12A, has now been combined with 12B, to make District 12. That means the two Baltimore County-based legislators from 12A now would have constituents as far away as Columbia in Howard County.

Some legislators shrug it off and are taking a time-to-meet-my-new-constituents approach. Others are making their feelings known.

"This is nothing but pure partisan politics, and that's not what redistricting was ever to be about," said Republican Del. Joe Boteler, of Carney.

"Atrocious" and "unconstitutional" was the reaction of Sen. Delores Kelley of District 10, the county's only black state senator. She said she is sure changes will be made in the proposed map.

We urge voters to join with legislators such as Kelley in speaking out if they perceive unfairness. This proposed redistricting should not become law just because that's what Gov. Martin O'Malley wants.

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