Though Carroll has become an integral part of the Baltimore metropolitan area, county political leaders say they'd rather be excluded when it comes to political identity.
Four of Carroll's six state legislators told the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee last night that they prefer that the county be aligned with Western Maryland rather than with the Baltimore metropolitan region when political boundaries are redrawn in 1992. A fifth said he agreed, but he did not speak at the meeting.
The legislators, the Carroll Republican Central Committee chairman and a Carroll County Sportsmen's Association spokesman emphasized that Carroll has more in common -- politically and philosophically -- with its rural-oriented western neighbors and urged the five-member committee to keep Carroll intact rather than split it into several districts.
"We indeed are country folks out here. We aren't city dudes," said C. D. "Hap" Baker of Hampstead, legislative liaison for the sportsmen's association.
Conducted at Frederick High, the meeting was the eighth of 13 planned this summer across Maryland to discuss the redrawing of the state's 47 legislative and eight congressional districts. Frederick and Carroll counties were the focus of last night's session.
The existing legislative boundaries lump portions of Carroll with Baltimore, Frederick and Howard counties. The speakers from Carroll said they want to cut ties with Baltimore County and allow a portion of Frederick County to be included in the Carroll district.
"Carroll County has the population for one district and part of another district," said Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll. "The time is now for proper redistricting to take place."
Political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years, based on the latest census figures, to account for population shifts. Ideally, each legislative district should have a population of 101,733 to provide equal representation in Annapolis. Carroll's 1990 census count is 123,372.
The committeehas adopted two preliminary maps, each dividing the state into four regions, to promote citizen discussion at the meetings. One groups Carroll with Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties, a region with a population large enough to comprise five districts; the other binds Carroll to the Baltimore metropolitan region.
Redistricting comes down to a power struggle among jurisdictions to maintain and increase representation, say Carroll legislators.
"It's the greatest game in politics you ever saw," said Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll. "You can preserve some people's seats, and for others,their political life depends on the district created for them."
Carroll could be caught in a power-play squeeze involving either Baltimore City, which stands to lose representation, or Montgomery County,which stands to gain. Each subdivision might push to create expandeddistricts outside its borders, which could indirectly affect the Carroll legislators attempts to form a more cohesive district, legislators say.
The legislators say that the number of lawmakers representing Carroll in Annapolis -- four delegates and two senators -- most likely will not change. But Carroll could benefit from the redistricting by gaining one senatorial district entirely within the county's borders and a fourth delegate who has a majority of his constituency inCarroll. The senatorial district likely would be represented by Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore.
"If any senatorial district is contained in one county, that means you can devote all your time and energy to one county," said
Haines. "Now my time and energy is split."
Currently, Carroll shares one senator with Baltimore County and another with Frederick and Howard counties. Two delegates represent the eastern portion of Carroll, a third serves the western half anda portion of Howard County, and the fourth represents primarily Baltimore County.