Several Baltimore County residents are up in arms about a new councilmanic redistricting plan that would shift Woodlawn’s Social Security Complex and thousands of residents out of the only Black lawmaker’s district.
Represented by Councilman Kenneth Oliver, the 4th District is economically rich and home to several federal planned developments, coined the Woodlawn Enterprise Zone. The predominately Black area is also one of the county’s most-populated with 117,072 residents.
Under a new redistricting plan, proposed by members of the Baltimore County redistricting commission, 6,260 Woodlawn residents and the enterprise zone would move to the adjoining first district, which lost population during the last census. It currently has 108,360 residents.
Woodlawn and Randallstown community leaders fear the move would dilute the power of the county’s only Black councilman and suck away promised federal development dollars from his control. “It seems to be driven by economics more than numbers,” said Aaron Plymouth, chairman for the Combined Communities Advocacy Council of Greater Randallstown and one of at least three community association heads rallying residents to fight against the proposal. “This is like giving the 1st District a golden parachute.”
Oliver is shopping around an amendment to the proposal that would allow the development sites and 3,800 more residents to remain in his district, while still designating the 1st District, led by newly-minted Councilman Tom Quirk, enough residents as required by law. He says his plan would bring both districts closer to the ideal population count of 115,290. “[The proposed plan] is taking me down from being the third largest district to the smallest,” Oliver explained. “That’s not fair and equitable.”
The commission, he said, has chosen to ignore his proposal. “Why vote on a redistricting plan that is not in the spirit of the law,” Oliver questioned. “It’s supposed to go by population and they didn’t go by population.”
A representative for Quirk’s office said the councilman was out of town and unable to comment by AFRO deadline. He has publically supported the proposed map. “It’s just the 4th that appears to be losing the most if the county council accepts this,” Plymouth said. “The only minority majority district in the county loses … It’s just not fair.”
If approved by the county council, the new map will take effect in 2014.
A redistricting public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 1 on the second floor of the Baltimore County Council Chambers in Towson at 6 p.m. Residents interested in speaking are asked to arrive by 5:30 p.m.