Redistricting Starts at Home

We’ve spent some time both on the blog and on Red Maryland Radio discussing various aspects of redistricting. Most of our time though has been spent on congressional and statewide legislative redistricting. However, those aren’t the only lines which are up for consideration this year.

Our counties are also going through the redistricting process too, particularly for those counties that have County Councils or those counties with the Commissioner form of government. Baltimore County has already come up with a redistricting plan that (unsurprisingly) shores up the seven incumbent members of the County Council. However, one of the tenets of that plan is that creates districts that are more contiguous and unites like-minded communities together. While a plan that in and of itself protects incumbents is not what the goal of redistricting should be, what we should be doing is making sure that like-minded communities that face similar issues and similar challenges are united to the extent practical.

Here in Anne Arundel County, our districts have been roughly similar for the last fifty years, ever since the first County Council districts were drawn by the Democrats in the 1960’s in order to diminish minority representation in West County. Lackadaisical redistricting since then has made the inertia seemingly impossible to overcome, and the seven Council Districts look remarkably similar to this very day, with the only changes seemingly coming on the margins of the districts. What it means for residents in the county is that districts are not split along lines of community interest, but merely based on maintaining the status quo.

Residents of all Maryland counties should be entitled to districts that are compact in size and have share similar characteristics to the remainder of their district to the extent possible. This should be an ideal applied at all levels of government.

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Tomorrow night I plan on testifying before a hearing of the Charter Review Commission (the body that governs county redistricting) Monday evening at 7 PM in the County Council Chambers at the Arundel Center. If you are a resident of Anne Arundel County, I encourage you to attend as well to voice your concerns about the redistricting process, and encourage the Commission members to take a serious look at ensuring that something other than the status quo be considered.

If you’re not a resident of Anne Arundel County, I encourage you to look into your own local redistricting process and getting involved. This is where the rubber meets the road folks, so if you want to have an impact, this is a great place to start.

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