Redistricting plan splits MontCo, P.G. lawmakers

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye
ANNAPOLIS - Montgomery and Prince George's county officials are divided over Gov. Martin O'Malley's congressional redistricting plan.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker told state lawmakers Monday that they support the plan shortly before U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, Montgomery County Council President Valerie Ervin and Montgomery County Councilwoman Nancy Navarro criticized it.

The plan "puts us in line with some of the very goals that we want to see in the county," said Baker, pointing to the benefits O'Malley's plan would have for economic development.

And Leggett assured the General Assembly that, contrary to the claims of seven Montgomery County Council members, the plan does not disadvantage minority populations.

"Minorities can be elected in districts where there is not a majority population of minorities," he said.

But Ervin vehemently disagreed. The Voting Rights Act is clear, she said, that congressional districts cannot put minority voters in a situation that prevents them from electing the person of their choice.

"While it is true that all of us ... would elect someone of our choice, and that doesn't necessarily have to be somebody who looks like us ... we don't exactly have a 200-year history of doing that," said Edwards, who introduced her own plan Monday.

According to Edwards, the fourth Congressional District -- which she represents and includes portions of Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- was created specifically to unite minority interests 20 years ago. O'Malley's plan reverses that effort, she said.

Edwards introduced an alternative map that unifies Hispanic populations on the Montgomery-Prince George's border, keeps Asian voters together in North Potomac and strengthens the black vote in both counties.

- Rachel Baye

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