Howard County should reduce its shared Annapolis legislative and Washington congressional districts when the boundary lines are redrawn to reflect the 1990 Census, says a group of concerned officials and residents.
The small group of elected officials and residents activein local politics made the suggestion at a public hearing Monday night before the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee.
To reflect the county's population increase of 58 percent over the last 10 years, from 118,000 to 187,000, the committee should make an effort to reduce the number of shared districts with other counties, said those who testified before the redistricting panel.
The county shares congressional districts with Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties and legislative districts with Montgomery, Prince George's and Carroll counties.
Most of those testifying proposed thatthe county be represented by two state senate districts instead of three, with one district wholly contained in Howard County.
"Legislatively, we feel that two senate districts would be most beneficial to our county," said Delegate Virginia Thomas, D-13A. "Right now it's split up with several surrounding counties."
Thomas said the Democratic Party's proposal for redistricting is not yet complete.
Allen Kittelman, vice chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee, proposed that Districts 13 and 14 should contain the county's entire legislative delegation. Now, a portion of the rural western county falls in District 4 and shares its state representatives with Carroll County.
Under the Republican Central Committee's proposal,District 14 -- which includes west Columbia and northeast MontgomeryCounty -- would gain the western part of the county now in District 4 and lose the Montgomery portion of the district. The result would be a district within county borders.
District 13, which includes the eastern part of the county and a portion of Prince George's county,would lose all of the Prince George's area except the city of Laureland gain areas in Columbia, Kittelman said. District 14 is the largest district in the state and District 13 is the third largest.
Based on the 1990 Census figures, the redistricting committee has set a target of 101,733 residents per legislative district.
Those testifying before the committee also supported the idea of reducing the county's congressional delegation to two districts. The delegation is now split among three districts.
The 3rd Congressional District, represented by Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, includes Columbia and Baltimore County. The 4th District, represented by Democrat Thomas McMillen, includes the eastern portion of the county and parts of Anne Arundel County. Democrat Beverly Byron represents the 6th District, which includes the western part of the county and Carroll County.
Ken Stevens, a member of the county's Democratic Central Committee and a citizen activist, testified that the division of Columbia between two state senate districts deprives its residents -- who are mostly liberaland Democratic -- of effective representation.
"Divided as it is into Districts 13 and 14, Columbia is only a minority voice in both districts and unfairly prevented from electing a state senator who truly represents its political views," Stevens said.
About 50 people attended the hearing at which 12 people testified. The hearing was the seventh of 13 scheduled throughout the state to obtain citizens' opinions on the redistricting process.
The drawing of new boundary lines takes place every 10 years to reflect the latest census figures.The General Assembly will adopt new congressional boundaries by falland new legislative boundaries by February.