Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed his proposed redistricting plan into law last week after the map garnered the approval of the Maryland General Assembly.

“To the people of Maryland, thank you for your voice, your input and your suggestions, and to all of the members of the General Assembly, thank you for giving fair, open and timely consideration and ultimately approval, to the recommendation of the Committee,” said O’Malley in statement. “Over the course of the Special Session, we were able to have vital and meaningful discussions about job creation and the importance of addressing our State’s infrastructure deficit as we prepare for the 2012 legislative session.

O’Malley’s controversial map has drawn the ire of many in the state as reports say the state’s Republicans believe the governor took gerrymandering to a new level by placing minorities in districts that have long been GOP strongholds in the hopes that those districts will turn Democrat.

Republicans weren’t the only ones crying foul. Rep. Donna Edwards saw her entire Montgomery County base wiped out of her district and was not happy about it. She says she didn’t think minority residents in Montgomery County would have the proper representation for the foreseeable future.

“While it is unfortunate that I stand alone in our congressional delegation in expressing concern for the interests at stake, there is no harm in a majority of one when it is necessary to right a wrong,” she said. “I am grateful that several of our local legislative and community leaders are willing to match their courage with their convictions.”

Edwards, whose district is now gains a large chunk of voters from Anne Arundel County, could conceivably see a legitimate challenge in the Democratic primary for her seat.

That dispute outlined an arduous process in which many stakeholders had their say. The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus wanted to make sure from the very beginning that the state’s growing African-American population was represented properly at the state and federal levels.

“The 2010 Census figures released on February 9, 2011 show that the Black population in Maryland rose by 15.1 percent, and that African Americans now make up 29.4 percent of the state’s total population,” said State Sen. Catherine Pugh in a statement earlier this year.  “We now constitute nearly a third of the state’s population and yet we are underrepresented in Federal and State Legislatures for Maryland. This inequity can be corrected in the redistricting process.”

Meanwhile, in Prince George’s County, the Redistricting Commission submitted its final proposal to the Prince George’s County Council.

In the proposal, Greenbelt and Bowie will now be placed in District 4, while the majority of Upper Marlboro will now be in District 9 as opposed to being split between that district and District 6. District 9 will now be mostly comprised of the county’s rural tier and Camp Springs residents will get their wish, having the municipality all comprised in District 8.

The final vote on that proposal is schedule for Nov. 1.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO