Redistricting Council Boundaries Could Reshape Politics in Anne Arundel
Crofton would be moved to District 4, District 1 would have command over west county under a proposed redistricting.
Residents of the western portion of Anne Arundel County could find themselves with new represenation under a redistricting proposal being considered next week by the County Council.
Council Chairman Jerry Walker (R-7th District) is sponsoring a plan to shift District 1 to the west, while combining portions of Odenton and Gambrills into District 4. and making District 2 the northern tip of the county. It would also ensure that District 7 would be comprised almost entirely of south county.
Another proposal from Council member Chris Trumbauer (D-4th District) would keep districts relatively the same, except for the swapping of a few precincts.
Both redistricting proposals are set for a vote on Monday.
Walker said it's about time the Council reassessed its boundaries, which largely haven't been reconfigured since the 1960s. It's also been a consistent request from his constituents, he said.
Walker's revision ostensibly creates a Western Council district by moving District 1 from the northern tip of the county to the Western tip. Currently, the western portion of the county is split between Districts 1 and 4. The result is a district largely composed of minority ethnicities, Walker said.
The change would also place District 1 in a commanding role to oversee the growth expected to come in that part of the county over the next decade.
"I think it’d be better suited for the west part of the county to have one representative, so they can look at that area comprehensively instead of just their section of west county," Walker said.
Walker's map is very similar to one proposed in 2011 by the council's Charter Revision Commission, which worked throughout that year to devise an equalizing solution to growing pains in Districts 1 and 4. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, these areas changed the most between census periods, with District 1 shrinking and District 4 growing.
Walker said he based the map on their work, but also did his own research, making many of the same conclusions.
Walker's map shows that District 1 would include Severn, Laurel, Jessup and Fort Meade, as well as the western half of Odenton. The new District 4 would include most of Odenton and Crofton, as well as the northern half of Gambrills, including the Waugh Chapel shopping centers.
Walker said moving Crofton out of District 7 to District 4 should alleviate some concerns among south county residents, who have consistently clamored for stronger representation.
The conflict is that each district has to maintain relatively equal populations, and because District 7 is less densely populated than others, it has to grab nearby clusters of population from areas that don't share the same interests as rural residents.
During the county's Charter Revision Commission meetings in 2011, representatives heard from a dozen south county residents who wanted to "keep South County rural" by moving Crofton out of their district.
Moving Crofton out creates a population gap that is filled by shifting District 7 further north, dipping into District 6, or the Greater Annapolis region.
Trumbauer said he does not believe that's a true solution to the South County residents' concerns.
"I completely understand the desire in the south county community to have a south county district, but the fact is it's impossible to do that with only seven districts," Trumbauer said.
Creating an additional two districts, bringing it to a total of nine, would allow for a dedicated south county district. But Trumbauer said plans like that are more suited for the next session of the Charter Revision Commission, which won't meet for another eight years.
Trumbauer said he was also concerned that Walker's map would landlock Districts 1 and 4, isolating them from waterfront concerns. The current configuration gives each district a taste of a waterway.
"To me, the waterways are such a part of Anne Arundel County, and I think every councilmanic disrict should have an attachment to our waterways," he said.
Trumbauer has his own map planned, which aside from a handful of precincts swapped between districts, would keep the boundaries where they currently stand. As Trumbauer put it: "If it's not broke, don't fix it."
The Council is set to vote on the bills at their next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.