Howard executive, councilman squabble over districts plan Ecker, threatening veto, faults extent of changes

The Howard County executive said yesterday that he would veto the councilmanic redistricting plan pushed by the council chairman if it passed in its present form.

Executive Charles I. Ecker, a Republican, said the redistricting proposal unveiled earlier this week by C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, "goes out of its way to move the district lines all around, while my plan makes the current district lines as close as possible."


"If the present plan is adopted, I will veto it," he said.

Mr. Gray termed the veto threat "blatant partisan politics" an said the executive "just wants to put in what is actually the Republican plan at the expense of the citizens."


The council's three Democrats recently managed in a 3-2 vote to have Mr. Gray's redistricting plan introduced as a resolution as well as a bill. The legislation was to be prefiled today. A public hearing is set for Oct. 21.

According to the council's legal adviser, attorney Benjamin R. Civiletti -- hired at the urging of the three council Democrats -- the council can legally establish districts by resolution, rather than through a bill that would be subject to Mr. Ecker's veto.

Barbara Cook, the county solicitor, has told Mr. Ecker that the redistricting plan, reflecting population changes in the 1990 census, should be enacted by bill and be subject to a veto.

Four council votes would be required to override an executive veto.

Councilman Darrel E. Drown, R-2nd, contended that Mr. Gray' plan "puts too much control in the three Columbia districts even though the [unincorporated] city only represents 40 percent of the county's population." All three Democrats live in Columbia.

Under Mr. Gray's plan, the 1st District would include most of Ellicott City and Elkridge; the 2nd District would cover most of the current 3rd District's East Columbia area and include Brightfield, the Woodlands and Deep Run mobile home park, now in the 1st District; the new 3rd District would encompass North Laurel, Savage, Allview Estates and the Owen Brown and Kings Contrivance villages in Columbia; the 4th District would include West Columbia, as well as a portion of Highland and Fulton north of Route 216 now in the 5th District and south Dorsey Hall and Fairway Hills now in the 2nd District; and the 5th District would encompass most of western Howard County and pick up Burleigh Manor and the Mount Hebron and Chateau Ridge areas now in the 2nd District.