Written Testimony to the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission

I was unable to attend tonight’s online meeting of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, but I was able to submit my testimony to the Commission, below.

Dear Commission Members,

            Six years ago, I testified before the Governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission supporting the Governor’s vision for permanent reform in our redistricting process. It is unfortunate that the General Assembly did not join the Governor in supporting these worthwhile measures. However, I have confidence that this Commission will propose Legislative and Congressional Districts that are equitable, fair, and common-sense in nature.

            As it relates to Legislative Redistricting, I make to you the same recommendations I made to the Governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission in 2015: the population of Legislative Districts should be of equal proportion to all other Legislative Districts, and all members of the House of Delegates be elected in single-member districts.

            Of particularly importance to myself and many others is the pressing need for members of the House of Delegates to be elected in single-member districts. As a resident of District 31, prior to the post-2010 redistricting plan I was represented by three members in the House of Delegates. After 2014, I have lived in a two-member subdistrict. The previous Governor’s Redistrict Advisory Committee appointed in 2011 stripped me of one of my elected members of the House of Delegates. All across the state, Marylanders have varying amounts of representation depending on where they live. That is unfair, that is wrong, and it violates the spirit of “One Person, One Vote”.

            Single-member districts will eliminate these discrepancies in representation.

            In addition to equalizing representation, single-member districts will increase diversity in the House of Delegates. Marylanders will be better represented politically, culturally, racially, and socio-economically with this change in philosophy.  Single-member districts will create lower barriers to entry for political participation for new leaders, and will allow members of the House of Delegates to be more representative of the communities which they serve.

            As it relates to Congressional Redistricting, what can I say that has not already been said? Maryland’s Congressional Districts are a comical embarrassment and a disgrace to our state.

            Here in Anne Arundel County, we have not had a member of Congress from our county in nearly thirty years. This county keeps being sliced a diced in order to meet the political needs of previous administrations and legislative leaders. This has created farcical situations for county residents.

            When I first began voting, I was a resident of the 3rd Congressional District. My polling place, barely a mile away, was located in the 1st Congressional District. And I had to drive through a portion of the 2nd Congressional District to get from my home to the polling place.

            Now, my Member of Congress resides in Prince George’s County. The rest of the county is represented by Members residing in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and St. Mary’s County. Who among them is going to represent the interests of Anne Arundel County voters when none of them reside in our county and the majority of their districts are centered elsewhere?

            It is preposterous that a county like Anne Arundel, which can be safely fit within an entire Congressional District, has been sliced up in a manner that ensures no county resident can be elected to the House of Representatives.

            I urge this Commission to propose Congressional Districts that are both as compact as possible and respecting community and geographic boundaries to the extent possible. Furthermore, I recommend that a Congressional District be created that includes the entirety of Anne Arundel County within its borders in order to ensure that county residents have the opportunity to receive representation for the first time in decades.

            I thank you for your time and for your willingness to serve the people of Maryland on this Commission.