During a Wednesday night public hearing, the Carroll County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly approved a new commissioner district map that will be used for the next decade.
Carroll County Code requires that commissioners appoint members to the Carroll County Redistricting Committee after the U.S. Census Bureau releases results of the decennial census. The seven-member committee was charged with examining and adjusting Carroll County districts based on census population data. According to figures released in August, Carroll County’s population increased by 5,757 residents during the last decade.
The recommended district revisions must be submitted to the Carroll County legislative delegation for final approval. The delegation can approve the map, reject it or redraw it. The Board of Commissioners has no role in the process.
After several meetings, the redistricting committee recommended a map that splits Finksburg at Md. Route 140, with northern Finksburg in District 2 and southern Finksburg in District 3. The other precinct split occurs along Deer Park Road.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Joe Leeman, redistricting committee chair, said the group operated under two primary principles: keeping communities of interest together and minimizing the separation of voting precincts, as requested by the county’s board of elections.
After the committee’s recommended map was presented to the delegation, several concerns arose from Finksburg residents who wanted to keep their community in one district.
Del. Susan Krebs, a District 5 Republican, said she also noticed the Freedom District was split in half and parts of Westminster were not together. With that in mind, the delegation made several adjustments to the map in order to keep most of Westminster together, as well as the North Carroll area, the Freedom area and Finksburg.
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While the committee’s original map minimized the splitting of voting precincts, Krebs said legislative and congressional redistricting “is going to blow them up,” anyway.
“We think we reached a good balance based on the comments we got back,” Krebs said, adding that so far, she has received positive feedback to the changes.
“We want to thank everyone for the consideration you’ve given to keeping the Finksburg area as an unincorporated area in the county,” said Skip Boyles, president of the Finksburg Planning and Citizens’ Council. “We think a singular voice is more substantial and beneficial to us than splitting the voice and having to go two different directions.”
Taneytown Councilman Joe Vigliotti lent his support to the adjustments as well, citing its community-centric nature.
“Having served on the board of elections, I am sensitive to their concern about the precincts, but I think it’s far more important to keep the communities of interest together overall,” said Del. April Rose, a District 5 Republican.
The General Assembly will consider the proposed map during a December special session.
The current commissioner districts are as follows: District 1, the county’s northernmost and geographically largest district, stretches from the Taneytown area east to Manchester; District 2 runs along the county’s east side, from Hampstead south through Finksburg and Gamber; District 3 includes the City of Westminster and surrounding areas; District 4 encompasses most of southwestern Carroll County, including the towns of Mount Airy, New Windsor and Union Bridge; and District 5 includes the Eldersburg community and the Town of Sykesville.