Gov. Martin O’Malley’s state redistricting plan made it through a state senate committee vote, but triggered much handwringing over districts in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties where the minority vote would be affected.

In O’Malley’s original proposal, many said the governor gerrymandered districts for Democratic gain.

Groups like the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, based in Prince George’s County, wanted a third majority African-American voting district due to the growth in the Black population in the state over the past 10 years.

That group, founded to make sure the state provides a government that is representative of the citizens of the state, isn’t the only faction upset with O’Malley’s plan. U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), upset that O’Malley’s original plan significantly cut her Montgomery County base, took it a step further by proposing her own redistricting map. Edwards’ map would make sure Montgomery County continued to have minority representation.

“This alternative map shows it is possible to address the concerns that I and several other leaders from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties raised about minority interests as represented in both the Governor’s map and the Advisory Panel from which he deviated only slightly,” said Edwards in a statement.

Under O’Malley’s plan, Edwards has been the lone dissenter in Congress from her party as it would give Maryland the opportunity to gain another seat from House Republicans. She says she doesn’t mind being alone if she believes she’s right.

“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.”

Despite those objections, there are some officials in favor of the plan. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker testified in favor of O’Malley’s plan saying that it gave Prince George’s a stronger voice in federal matters.

“I support Governor O’Malley’s 2011 Congressional Redistricting Plan and strongly believe that it will enhance the representation of Prince George’s County residents on Capitol Hill,” said Baker.

“By increasing the amount of Prince Georgians represented by the 4th Congressional District Member and maintaining the continuity of the 5th Congressional District, this plan offers equitable minority representation and will help us achieve the goal of targeted transit-oriented development at our underdeveloped Metro stations.”

O’Malley said he listened to all stakeholders throughout this process and has a plan that works best for the state. He says he will continue to work with statewide leaders on this issue.

“I’d like to thank the Committee for their hard work throughout this process, as well as the citizens who have submitted their comments and suggestions and all of the members of the General Assembly,” O’Malley said. “I am looking forward to working with our legislature next week as we ensure that every citizen is fairly and accurately represented.”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO