The Harford County Redistricting Commission has unveiled a third proposal establishing new County Council district boundaries that would put all three Edgewood voting precincts into one council district.
That would appease Edgewood residents who complained about the second proposal, which put one precinct in District A and two in District F. The Edgewood residents said the division meant their votes would not carry political clout.
The only drawback to the new plan, said commission members, is that two Abingdon precincts would be shifted from District B to District F, represented by Democrat Philip J. Barker. A third Abingdon precinct would remain in District B.
Other changes included in the latest proposal:
* All seven Bel Air precincts would be included in District C.
* District A would lose the Joppa-Magnolia precinct, with 4,400 residents, to District B.
* 5,517 residents in Forest Hill, now represented by Democrat Theresa M. Pierno in District C, would be shifted to District E, represented by Republican Robert S. Wagner.
* District F would gain 14,203 residents from the two Abingdon precincts now in District B, and the Perryman precinct, currently in District E.
* District D, represented by Republican Barry T. Glassman, would remain as it is.
At its meeting Wednesday, the commissionfound itself back at the drawing board after deciding that the Edgewood residents' complaints were valid.
"If you accept the argumentsfrom the people in Fallston, you have to accept the same argument from the people in Bel Air and Edgewood," said Sally W. Rogers, a commission member.
She was referring to the lobbying from Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, R-District B, and some constituents who had arguedthat the first redistricting proposal to split the Upper Crossroads and Fallston precincts between two council districts was unreasonable. The commission agreed and dropped that proposal.
Pierno, whose district includes Bel Air, appeared at the meeting to ask that the BelAir area precincts be placed in one district.
The commission alsoread into the record a letter from Council woman Susan B. Heselton, R-District A, arguing that the Edgewood precincts not be split. Her district includes the Edgewood area.
After a 90-minute discussion Wednesday, the commission adopted its third plan, which would affect 35,248 citizens, or about 21 percent of the county's 182,132 residents.
The proposal will be circulated among council members early thisweek.
Under this proposal, District A would gain 111,128 Edgewoodresidents, or two precincts, from District F. Heselton already represents the third Edgewood precinct, which includes Edgewater Village.
The commission is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m Wednesday in the County Council conference room, Level A, of the County Courthouse in Bel Air to decide which plan it will recommend. The final redistricting plan is to be formally presented to the County Council Oct. 1; a public hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 21.
"People are more important than numbers," said Rogers toward the end of the Wednesday meeting.
She was referring to the commission's efforts to keep the size of each district near the ideal population of 30,355, one reason the commission initially decided to divide the Bel Air area precincts.
The commission arrived at the ideal district population by dividing the county's population of 182,132 by six, the number of County Council districts. The purpose of redistricting, done every 10 years based on results of the U.S. Census, is to ensure equal voter representation.
To meet that goal, the commission tried to stay within a range of 10 percent above or below the ideal district size of 30,355. The new proposal would broaden that range slightly.
WHICH COUNCIL DISTRICTPRECINCTS WOULD SHIFT UNDER THIRD PLAN?
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Current.. .. ..Proposed..
Precinct.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. District.. .. .Shift.. ..
Edgewood (Edgewood Arsenal).. ..District F.. ..District A
Edgewood (Edgewood Meadows).. ..District F.. ..District A
Joppa-Magnolia.. .. .. .. .. .. District A.. ..District B
Forest Hill.. .. .. .. .. .. .. District C.. ..District E
Abingdon.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. District B.. ..District F
Abingdon (Broadview).. .. .. .. District B.. ..District F
Perryman.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. District E.. ..District F