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Towson Council District Shifts Under Draft Redistricting Map

The Baltimore County Redistricting Commission Credit: John Lee
The Baltimore County Redistricting Commission Credit: John Lee

Under a proposed redistricting map for the Baltimore County Council, the heart of the county seat would move from a Republican-controlled district to one held by a Democrat.

The major shift is being considered by the county’s Redistricting Commission.

The commission is not making the proposed map public , although it is poised to vote on it next week to send it to the County Council for approval. If you had gone to Thursday’s commission meeting, you could have caught a glimpse of the map on a screen, otherwise you are out of luck.

But commission chairman Robert Latshaw confirmed the downtown Towson area would switch from Republican David Marks’ fifth district to Democrat Cathy Bevins’ sixth district.

“The sixth district councilman covers the central business district of Towson, going down to the city line, roughly,” Latshaw said.

Officials say they did not want to make the map public yet because the redistricting commission has not taken a final vote.

Marks hasn’t seen the map but said losing Democratic-leaning Towson would make his district, which includes Perry Hall, more conservative.

“I’ve made many Democratic friends in Towson, but there are still people who will never vote for a Republican,” Marks said. “I would think that I might be the last Republican to represent that part of Baltimore County for a while.”

Bevins, who also said she hasn’t seen the map, said she would be very happy to pick up those Democratic votes in Towson. Her current district, which includes conservative Middle River, is considered purple rather than blue. Picking up Towson likely would change that.

“I would love that if that happened,” Bevins said. “If I was to move further west into Towson, that would be wonderful for me. It’s more Democratic.”

“I have fought very hard for some Towson projects,” Bevins added.

The redistricting commission held three public hearings in June, but that was before data was available from the 2020 census that would reflect the changes in the county’s population over the last 10 years. State and local governments must redraw their district lines every 10 years based on the census numbers. The census data was delayed by COVID-19.

Since then, the commission has been using software to manipulate the data and the council district lines. The seven districts must have roughly the same number of people in them and be compact.

“I hope that the draft map is available very soon,” Marks said. “We got this census data very late. That is not our fault and they are doing their best under extreme deadlines.”

The commission must submit its report to the council by October 15. The council then must hold at least one public hearing, then vote on the map by January 31, 2022.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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