Bolton Hill community leaders have vowed to take their fight to the City Council to prevent their neighborhood from being placed in the councilmanic 4th District after their efforts to dissuade the mayor failed.
According to Mayor Kurt Schmoke's redistricting plan, which he submitted to the council this week, Bolton Hill would be moved from the 2nd District to the 4th.
The two community leaders, Neal M. Friedlander and Awilda Marquez both said Schmoke indicated he understood their concerns but that he also had to make certain that racial balances work in his plan.
The population of the 2nd District is roughly 70 percent black and the 4th District is 98 percent black.
The 4th District is represented by three black council members; the 2nd by two blacks and a white. A 15-year-old agreement between the 2nd's white and black political clubs has ensured that one of the district's three council members will be white.
Members of the Mount Royal Improvement Association, which covers Bolton Hill, and the predominantly white New Democratic Club-2nd District have voted unanimously to oppose moving Bolton Hill into the 4th.
"Absolutely, we'll take our fight to the council because we feel strongly about our position," said Friedlander, chairman of the association's redistricting committee.
He met with Schmoke last week and presented the association's position.
"I told the mayor of our strong desire to retain the historical alignment with other neighborhoods that share our interests, like Mount Vernon-Belvedere and Charles Village," Friedlander said.
Bolton Hill was the first center-city preservation neighborhood that produced a strong middle-class enclave, he said. The movement spread to Mount Vernon and Charles Village.
Marquez, president of NDC-2, told the mayor last week that Bolton Hill laid the groundwork for the 2nd District's political coalition, which should be preserved.
About 20 percent of NDC-2's membership lives in Bolton Hill, Marquez said.
The other major white political club in the 2nd, the Mount Royal Democratic Club, has yet to take a position. But its leader, state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, said he has told Schmoke he is adamantly opposed to the move. Lapides said this week that he might challenge Schmoke in the September city primary.
"If the mayor planned to move Mount Vernon-Belvedere and Charles Village into the 4th as well, it would make more sense," Friedlander said. "But to isolate Bolton Hill like this creates a sense of estrangement that I'm afraid will cause more middle-class residents to leave the city."