Towson-area residents still upset about Balto. Co. redistricting

With Baltimore County Council members set to vote next week on how to redraw the county's political lines, some residents are still fighting to keep their districts intact.

During a council meeting Tuesday, people packed a conference room to ask council members not to split small communities in Towson, the county seat.

In June, a five-member redistricting commission finished its work and gave its recommendations to the County Council. Among other proposals, the commission said the county should shift the communities of Loch Hill and Glendale/Glenmont from the 5th District — now represented by Perry Hall Republican David Marks — to the 6th, represented by Middle River DemocratCathy Bevins.

Nearly a dozen people signed up to speak to council members, and others crowded the room to show support.

Patty Nicholls of Loch Hill Road said her community shares concerns with Towson on issues including infrastructure, schools, traffic, recreation and commerce. It would be "irrational" and "inefficient" to split the neighborhoods among two council members, she said.

"Our neighborhood is a Towson neighborhood," she said. "All of Towson should have the same council person."

Several speakers, including Loch Hill Community Association President Antony Gross, said people are not concerned about which particular council person would represent them but about having one voice on the council.

"We are a Towson community," said Gross, adding that some communities that would be split from Towson are some of the most ethnically diverse in the area. "We want to stay part of Towson."

Also Tuesday, 4th District Democrat Kenneth Oliver offered an amendment to keep the community of Woodlawn — home to the Social Security Administration — in his district. The commission had proposed shifting that area to the 1st District, represented by Catonsville Democrat Tom Quirk.

"The commission did its job," Oliver said. "However, some of my constituents believe that my way is much more fair and equitable."

Oliver said his amendment, which would give the area northwest ofWoodlawn to Quirk's district, would give both districts a population of about 112,000.

Under the commission's recommendation, Oliver's district would have about 110,800 residents, and Quirk's would have nearly 114,600.

The council is scheduled to vote on Oliver's amendment and the final map Monday.

"There's a lot of constituents in Baltimore County, and some are going to be happy with the final product, and some are not going to be happy," said Council Chairman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat.

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