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Harford council redistricting commission to ask municipalities, citizens for ideas on county political districts

The commission that will propose changes to Harford County’s council districts will seek recommendations from municipalities and citizens on how to redraw the county’s political boundaries.

At Thursday’s meeting of the commission, the five-member panel agreed to ask for reworked district maps and comments from municipalities and citizens interested in sharing their thoughts on the future shape of Harford’s political landscape

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“We are appealing to any person in the community who is interested in presenting a map to us,” commission member Jim Thornton said.

The commission did not specify where those proposed maps could be submitted, but said it will be sending out a news release to municipalities and media with further details. Its next meeting is Monday.

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A map of the current Harford County Councilmanic District is shown. A commission has been appointed to redraw the map in time for the 2022 elections using the latest U.S. Census data.
A map of the current Harford County Councilmanic District is shown. A commission has been appointed to redraw the map in time for the 2022 elections using the latest U.S. Census data. (Courtesy Harford County Government)

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 over 16,000 people, raising the Census’ count to 260,924 people in the county.

The commission’s request for input follows a proposed countywide redistricted map drawn up by the cities of Aberdeen and Havre de Grace. Presented at a meeting of the Aberdeen City Council, the map would combine Havre de Grace and Aberdeen into one district, which the cities believe would give them a more consistent voice on the county council.

The cities’ priorities are in line, officials from both Aberdeen and Havre de Grace said, and the issues facing both municipalities are similar. One council member representing both, they reasoned, would lead to a consistent voice on the council dais to address the cities’ common issues.

Currently, the two cities are in separate districts, with Havre de Grace occupying District F and Aberdeen landing in District E.

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Havre de Grace residents in particular have been dissatisfied with their district, and Mayor William Martin previously said that other areas of District F can outvote the city on “pretty much anything,” leaving city residents feeling “disenfranchised.” District F also includes Abingdon, Creswell, Cedarday, Riverside, Belcamp, Perryman and part of Aberdeen Proving Ground — communities with differing priorities than the city.

The map proposed by Aberdeen and Havre de Grace has not been formally submitted to the redistricting commission, its members said, but Havre de Grace’s City Council passed a resolution signaling approval of the map.

The commission is tasked with making recommendations to the Harford County Council, which will ultimately decide future political boundaries.

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