Redistricting FAQ for Baltimore County Council

Q1: What do the current county council districts look like?
A: Here are detailed maps of the districts: District 1 Tom Quirk, District 2 Vicki Almond, District 3 Todd Huff, District 4 Kenneth Oliver, District 5 David Marks, District 6 Cathy Bevins , District 7 John Olszewski.
[For a complete one-page listing of Baltimore County political maps, go here. The list points you to maps for state legislative districts and US congressional districts as well as council districts.]

Q2: What is the timetable for council redistricting?
  • In spring 2011, the Redistricting Commission will conduct public hearings. (If you want to testify, registration opens at 6 p.m. and ends several minutes before 7 p.m.)
  • By July 1, 2011, the commission will deliver its report and redistricting plan to the County Council.
  • In July or August there will be a public hearing to discuss the preliminary report (date & location TBD)
  • By 12/19/11 the county council must introduce legislation. Note: The council may reject the commission's advice and submit an entirely different redistricting plan.
  • By 01/31/12 the county council must adopt the final redistricting plan by legislative act.
The new council districts will first be used in the 2014 elections.

Q3: Who is on the Redistricting Commission that will propose new districts to the county council?
A: Ed Crizer (Chair), Jim Gillis, Robert Latshaw, Anne Neal and Ralph Wright. Bryan Sears has bios for all except Wright in the Arbutus Patch. And here's a more political assessment of the appointees: four Dem and one GOP.

Q4: Is the council required to follow the recommendations of the Redistricting Commission?
A: No. The commission's proposals are non-binding. The council is free to ignore the commission and implement a redistricting plan of its own choosing.

Q5: Does County Executive Kevin Kamenetz have authority to veto the redistricting plan?
A: No. (As far as I know, this article is still correct on the matter of vetoes.)

Q6: What are the rules for redistricting?
A: Districts must be "compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population" and give "due regard" to "current natural, geographic, and community boundaries." For more detail on the rules, see the Baltimore County Redistricting Manual on the redistricting page of the Baltimore County website.

Q7: How does the Redistricting Manual define "compactness"?
A: " A district would not be sufficiently compact if it was so spread out that there was no sense of community, that is, if its members and its representative could not effectively and efficiently stay in touch with each other, or if it was so convoluted that there was no sense of community, that is, if its members and its representative could not easily tell who actually lived within the district."

*According to Councilman David Marks quoted in Inside Charm City.
**According to the Baltimore Sun, the commission's proposals are "non-binding."

[UPDATES: Ralph Wright is the fifth member of the Commission now, replacing Dunbar Brooks.]