The Prince George’s County Redistricting Commission has been moving forward with its work as the day nears for it to submit a proposal to the County Council for consideration.

The commission, created by the County Council, is chaired by Sharon R. Taylor, director of Communications and Public Affairs in the Office of the Sheriff. Joining her on the Commission are former councilman and State Sen. David Harrington, D.-Dist. 47 and attorney and Maryland Consumer Council appointee Tamara Davis Brown.

At the public hearing on June 21, the commission discussed past and present Census maps. According to the maps, significant population shifts occurred in Laurel, Bowie, Largo, Upper Marlboro and Brandywine – communities outside of the Beltway.

Due to that and the fact that the commission is tasked with providing a plan that will “provide for Council districts that are compact, contiguous, and equal in population,” those areas may experience some change, especially in Districts 6 and 9 where the populations have grown to over 100,000 people.

The Redistricting Commission continues its work even as Gov. Martin O’Malley created his own five-member committee to tackle redistricting at the state level. That process will be important to redrawing state and federal district lines.

The five members of state committee are Jeanne D. Hitchcock, former deputy mayor when O’Malley served as mayor of Baltimore; Maryland Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, D.-Dist. 27; Delegate Michael Busch, D.-Dist. 30; Richard Stewart, president and CEO of Montgomery Mechanical Services; and former Del. James King. “The Census revealed real changes in Maryland’s population, and I look forward to working with the members of this committee to develop congressional and legislative districts that reflect those changes,” said Miller, whose district falls in Southern Prince George’s County, in a statement. “We are committed to an open and fair process that produces the best result for the citizens of Maryland.”

The first two hearings for the governor’s committee took place in Frederick and Largo with the next one scheduled in two weeks in Rockville.

The commission continues to ask for public input on the process, either by testifying at its public hearings or commenting on the commission’s webpage,  www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/Redistricting2011/.

“The Council believes that a variety of viewpoints and dialogue is important on this issue,” Councilwoman Ingrid Turner, D.-Dist. 4 said in a statement. “We are therefore encouraging public input and participation in this critical process.”

The next two Prince George’s County public hearings are schedule for 10:45 am July 28 and 10 a.m. Aug. 13 at the County Administration Building. The commission must submit its report the council on or before Sept. 1.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO