By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
In a prolonged day of Baltimore City Council meetings on Oct. 19, the lawmakers passed an amended version of Mayor Brandon M. Scott’s redistricting plan in an 8-6 vote.
Councilman Kristerfer Burnett (D-District 8) was not in attendance, so he had no vote.
“We took a map that had several positives and made tweaks based on community feedback to make it better,” said City Council President Nick Mosby to the press. “The amendments do not deviate drastically from the mayor’s proposed map, so we hope to have his support.”
It is now up to Scott to either sign or veto the map by Nov. 20. Mosby said if Scott plans to veto, the council needs him to make the decision by Oct. 30 so they can override the veto in a regularly scheduled council meeting.
If Scott vetoes the plan after that date, the council cannot call a special meeting to override the veto and Scott’s proposed map would go into effect.
“Mayor Scott looks forward to reviewing the proposed map with the city’s legal and planning department to determine if the last-minute amendments meet the criteria set by the charter,” said Marvin James, Scott’s interim chief of staff, in a released statement.
Mosby drafted the amended map, which keeps Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a portion of the M&T Bank Stadium in District 11 and Clifton Park in District 14━something Scott’s proposed map had shifted and residents were unhappy about.
“Residents throughout my district have expressed confusion and frustration with both the mayor and council president’s maps,” said Councilman Zeke Cohen (D-District 1), a councilmember who voted no to Mosby’s map. “Regardless of what map is ultimately implemented, my office will continue to treat all the neighborhoods within our district as a whole, and I will continue collaborating with colleagues across district boundaries.”
Cohen said he plans to call for a change in the redistricting process.
“I plan to introduce a charter amendment to create an independent redistricting commission,” he said. “My charter amendment will empower people who are not currently elected officials to shape the initial map. We also need to start earlier and give communities more than 60 days to voice their views. Baltimore deserves better.”
Per the Baltimore City Charter, the city council had to take action on Scott’s proposed redistricting map within 60 days.
“It was a really tough process,” said Mosby. “Community lines are organic – you might want community members right across the street to be in the same district as you. We tried to work as much as possible to ensure that the community got what they wanted and deserved.”
Tashi McQueen is a Report For America corps member.