Marc King lives in Germantown, Maryland.
“Council Appoints Members to the Commission on Redistricting to Establish Boundaries of Council Districts“
The County Council has just announced the Redistricting Commission. The members were selected from applicants who submitted letters of interest to serve on the Commission. The Council President informed us that of all the applications received, some 32 were selected for interviews, and from those, 11 Commissioners have been selected.
Now a little background…
Please recall that before the election there was a bipartisan, citizen-driven ballot initiative successfully added to the ballot in Montgomery County by collecting well over 15,000 verified signatures. That initiative was seeking to eliminate the “At-Large” Council members and replace them with specific districts in the hope that the far reaches of the county – places like Germantown, Clarksburg, Darnestown, and Poolesville – might be able to gain direct representation on the County Council. However, the Council had other ideas, and rather then let the will of the people prevail, they added their own ballot initiative at the eleventh hour; in their usual manner they were able to confuse the electorate into voting for seven districts and four at-large members.
The scheme that was voted in will be part of the requirement to redistrict the county in accordance with the data that was derived from the 2020 Federal Census. This is a requirement for all levels of government. In Montgomery County:
The Commission shall include at least one but no more than four members of each political party which polled at least 15 percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for the Council in the last preceding regular election. As a result of the 2018 General Election, there are two parties recognized by the State of Maryland: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.Montgomery County Council Press Release (November 12, 2o2o)
However, the Commission’s announcement with the appointed individuals tells us that the following political representations have been selected:
- Democrats – 4
- Republicans – 2
- Libertarian – 1
- Independent –2
- Unaffiliated — 2
The selections based on affiliations do not seem to be in concert with the County’s own requirements as stated in their 2018 Memo. I am sure that the people selected are all qualified to do the job; I am just not sure that they meet the qualifications for selection to the job. Further, what seems dramatically undemocratic with the process is that not one of the selectees for the Commission resides in the outlying area designated as “Upcounty”: Germantown, Clarksburg, Poolesville, Boyds, or Darnestown. It is hard to believe that of all the applications received by the Council, that there was not a single person from Upcounty that could be selected for the Commission. In the words of a now infamous politician: “Come on, man!”
Just to reinforce the point, above is a map of Montgomery County. The RED line connects the dots between the locations where each of the Commission members is reported to reside. The Blue line connects the dots between the locations where the Council Members are reported to reside.
I think there is a decided lack of representation, as there historically has been, for those parts of the county that are the most remote. I submit that the Council President is derelict in his duties to the residents of Upcounty Montgomery – Germantown, Darnestown, Boyds, Dickerson, Poolesville, Clarksburg – and needs to rethink the makeup of the Redistricting Commission.