A Report from the Prince George’s County Redistricting Hearing

Wanted to pass along this information contained in an email that is going around, a citizen’s report of what occurred at the Prince George’s County redistricting hearing that took place last night…

Redistricting Hearing: July 25, Prince George’s County

If there was a theme to last night’s Redistricting Hearing in Prince George’s County – it was this: compact and contiguous. Keep our communities together. Keep our municipalities together. Do not split the county into a dozen legislative districts or congressional districts. Create more African/American minority districts. Represent the area with representatives that reflect our views. Over and over, the audience responded loudly with applause.

From the several who spoke on behalf of Calvert County, the theme was the same: contiguous and keep the Southern MD counties together. Give us single member districts and bring the northern end back to Calvert. Make us whole again.

About 30 people spoke out at the hearing held at Prince George’s Community College. The Governor appointed Advisory Committee watched as citizens gave their views on how Prince George’s and the Southern MD counties should/could be redistricted. Chairman Jeanne Hitchcock, Senator Mike Miller, Delegate Mike Busch, former Delegate James King (Republican), and Richard Stewart listened and the two currently elected officials, appeared anxious as comments came forward that clearly indicated the citizens’ dissatisfaction with how the process happened in 2002. As one declared Democrat presenter said, “MD is the most gerrymandered State.”

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Several brought up the court case from the 2002 gerrymandering try in MD even reading from the documents to remind all of the past failure of the former Committee’s redistricting process. This did not go unnoticed. Even the staunch Democrats who elected the powers that are, reminded the Advisory Committee that the process must be fair. One presenter had the guts to bring up the Court case and how Senator Miller held a cook out for the judges deciding the case causing presiding Judge Bell to leave and made it known. Sounds of disbelief and disgust rippled through the audience.

About five speakers endorsed keeping the status quo and did not elaborate other than say that MD was well represented in the Congress.

As speakers drove home the point in the areas where they live, over and over, the theme continued:

· Keep College Park in a single legislative district.

· Keep Greenbelt in the 5th Congressional District; keep the town together.

· Stop splitting PG and diluting the minority vote by bringing in districts to keep “incumbents” safe.

· Move 8th Congressional out of PG.

· Keep Hyattsville together; we want representative democracy.

· Camp Springs – 4 legislative districts and 2 congressional districts – not treated fairly in 2002. Keep us compact and contiguous.

· Calvert Cty – want to keep the County whole; single member legislatives districts; keep Calvert with rest of Southern MD.

· From the PG Central Committee: keep PG compact and contiguous. County is being used by others for their interests. Want boundaries. Don’t want to reach out to our senator who “lives down the road.”

· PG Young Democrats – maintain boundaries.

· State must reflect the change in population. Preserve two Congressional Minority Districts and increase the minority districts in PG. Maps should not be drawn to reduce the African American vote.

· Remove the 5th Congressional District from PG.

· Oppose bringing the 1st Congressional District across the Bay into PG.

· Calvert County: contiguous and compact; do not split the congressional districts; desire to remain aligned with Charles and St. Mary’s Counties; single member districts; fair chance.

· Do not dilute minorities.

· NAACP: we do not want to end up challenging the State in court.

· Governor and Committee know what needs to be done.

· PG has changed. People are aware and we need to take care of our own within our boundaries.

· Bowie – congressional lines should flow out from PG and not to fill needs of others.

· PG should not be the sacrificial lamb.

· PG best served by two congressional districts.

· Hillcrest Heights/Marlow Heights – want to be compact and contiguous.

· Keep communities together. People want change over the last decade.

For a good two hours, the citizens spoke. From representatives of several political actions committees to mayors, delegates, party activists and party leaders, to the retired citizens, people were passionate in their views. As one said, “It’s not about people in office but about the people in Prince George’s.”

Another directed this to his State Senator, “Someday, Senator Miller, someone from Prince George’s, and you used to live in Prince George’s, will be our Senator.” To which, Senator Miller gave a thumbs up response.

The next hearing in the Southern MD area will be at the College of Southern MD in La Plata on August 24. We encourage as many citizens as possible to attend and address their concerns.

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