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Howard commission selects plan for proposed redistricting, will present to County Council on Nov. 22

Howard County’s Councilmanic Redistricting Commission on Tuesday voted 4-3 to present Plan E as its recommended redistricting map to the Howard County Council later this month.

Presented at the commission’s Nov. 2 work session, Plan E was created with parts of the originally proposed plans A, B and D by commission member David Marker in an effort to keep communities together and minimize the amount of people who would be moved.

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“It is the best solution,” Marker said. “It is moving fewer people and creates nice and compact districts.”

Of all the plans, including Plan F which was presented Tuesday by commission member Ray Serrano, Plan E moves only 9,977 residents into new districts, significantly fewer than the 22,013 residents moved in Plan F, which received votes from Serrano, Chris Oxenham and Mahesh Kukata.

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The Councilmanic Redistricting Commission voted Nov. 9 to present Plan E to the Howard County Council on Nov. 22 as its recommended proposed redistricting map for Howard County.
The Councilmanic Redistricting Commission voted Nov. 9 to present Plan E to the Howard County Council on Nov. 22 as its recommended proposed redistricting map for Howard County. (Courtesy photo / HANDOUT)

Plan E does not grant the request of numerous residents at both public hearings to move the Wheatfield community in Ellicott City from District 2 to District 1, a sore point for Oxenham, who was not comfortable ignoring the “number of people” who voiced their opinions in favor of the change.

McNeal Brown said the map was “for all of Howard County” and that there was “never going to be a perfect map.” He, along with Marker and Everlene Cunningham, voted in favor of Plan E.

In Plan E, 4,526 people from District 1 would be moved to District 5; 1,985 would be moved from District 2 to District 1; 2,032 would be moved from District 5 to District 4; and 1,434 would be moved from District 2 to District 3.

The commission has a goal to get each council district to an “ideal population size” of close to 66,000 residents, which would split the five districts evenly. Plan E would place 67,103 residents in District 1; 67,480 in District 2; 66,432 in District 3; 63,979 in District 4; and 66,810 in District 5.

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In casting her tiebreaking vote for Plan E, commission Chair Donna Hill Staton noted that Plan E keeps the Wheatfield community together and that “bridges” needed to be built between communities.

“Not everyone is going to be happy,” Staton said. “I hope everyone does understand that they have been heard and their concerns were not dismissed. We need to support each other.”

The commission on Nov. 22 will submit Plan E to the County Council, which can either accept it as is or make its own suggestions. A public hearing on the plan will be held, too, Staton said.

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