LWVBCo upcoming vote to expand County Council seats
LWV Baltimore County plans a vote on changing one of our positions at the 10 a.m. February 3, 2022 board meeting.
We have a local position in favor of maintaining the current number of county council seats which was approved in 1992 and 2002. Since then, the population in Baltimore County has expanded significantly and the Black population is compressed into one councilmanic district, diluting their representation.
Our current position is:
"ACTION to support maintaining the present number (7) of County Council Districts (1992) (2002)." (2021 Positions)
Our league recently spoke up and joined an ACLU lawsuit in opposition to the racially gerrymandered redistricting plan. Another strategy to address this issue is to create additional council districts which could create additional majority-minority districts. The advocacy community in Baltimore County is planning to collect signatures to place this issue on the ballot as a referendum. One of our members, Linda Dorsey Walker, is already working with the Fair Maps Coalition to collect signatures.
This issue is of great importance from a systemic inequality perspective and is in conflict with our Diversity Equity and Inclusion policy (Bylaws). Our position is out of date with what's happening in the county. If we keep the existing position, we will be unable to advocate for racial justice by championing an increase in councilmanic districts in Baltimore County.
We should support the expansion of county council seats for the following reasons:
- Our council districts currently each represent around 122,000 people. By contrast, Howard County's districts represent about 60,000 each and Montgomery County has 7 districts representing about 150,000 people AND four at-large representatives.
- The Black population of Baltimore County is currently packed into a single district. Creating more districts could create more minority-majority districts and give Black residents equitable representation.
- Creation of more districts would create more opportunity for people not currently represented on the council - women, youth, LGBTQ+, and people of color.
Because this is an issue of fair representation and apportionment covered by the LWVUS positions on voting rights, the LWVUS advises that we may invite members for input and have the board vote on the issue. We welcome your input. Please feel free to send me your input via email in advance of the meeting, or plan to attend the board meeting Thursday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m. using this Google Meets link.
Ericka McDonald (she/her)
Co-President, League of Women Voters, Baltimore County
Elected Director, League of Women Voters, Maryland