Aberdeen’s City Council passed a resolution Monday signaling its support for joining the same county council district as Havre de Grace as the process of redrawing political districts enters the homestretch.
Approved by a 3-0 vote with two absences, the city’s resolution is not a matter of enforceable law, Mayor Patrick McGrady said, but an expression of its sentiment on redrawing the political boundaries of Harford County. Council members Adam Hiob and Sandra Landbeck were absent from the vote.
“This document is the product of the town of Havre de Grace and the city of Aberdeen’s most politically nerdy minds working together to put together what we think makes sense as a proposal . … for what the Harford County councilmanic redistricting should look like,” he said.
The county’s redistricting commission is accepting comments and suggestions from municipalities and county residents until Sept. 20. The questions can be asked at the meetings in the county council chambers or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cities’ map would combine Havre de Grace and Aberdeen into the same council district — a move they say would offer them more consistent representation on the county council. The two cities have similar priorities and issues, but not enough population to claim their own council districts, each of which has to contain over 40,000 people.
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But the proposed map, which had not been formally submitted to the redistricting commission, did not only change the two cities. It also tightened up other districts in the county, making them more contiguous and compact.
Havre de Grace Mayor William Martin previously said city residents felt “disenfranchised” in the current district, which lumps the city in with other areas of District F that outvote the city on “pretty much anything.” District F also includes Abingdon, Creswell, Cedarday, Riverside, Belcamp, Perryman and part of Aberdeen Proving Ground — communities with differing priorities to the city’s, he said.
Martin also previously said the city had issues with its current district’s contiguity.
Havre de Grace passed a similar resolution to Aberdeen’s in late August, affirming its support for consolidating the two cities in the same district.
The redistricting commission has to submit its redistricting recommendations and report to the council by Oct. 1, unless it is given an extension. In the final weeks before that deadline is reached, the commission will host a rush of meetings on Wednesday and Sept. 20, 22, 27 and 30.
Because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the U.S. Census, the commission received adjusted data on Sept. 9. Census data submitted to the commission shows that Harford County experienced 6.6% growth in the past 10 years — the third most in the Baltimore region behind Howard and Anne Arundel counties, which saw 15.8% and 9.4% growth, respectively. In 10 years, Harford gained just more than 16,000 people, raising the Census’ count to 260,924 people in the county.
The redistricting commission does not decide how the political boundaries will be drawn. Its job is to submit recommendations and a report to the county council, which makes the final call on how the council districts will be drawn.