From the Office of Council Member Tom Dernoga November 2021
Updated: 5 days ago
Bad News for Beltsville and Prince George’s County Democracy
Tuesday, October 19, 2021, the County Council introduced Resolution CR-123-2021 to enact a plan of County Council district boundaries, available at this link: https://bit.ly/30MGm3F. CR-123-2021 initially presented the “Davis Map,” seen here https://bit.ly/DavisMap, approved by the County Council "Committee of the Whole" on Thursday, October 14, 2021. The Resolution was quickly amended by the sponsors to present a different map, particularly regarding the District 1 boundaries.
Council Members Davis, Franklin, Hawkins, Taveras, Turner, and Harrison introduced CR-123-2021, and amended it with a new map again with virtually no consultation with the other four council members. Thanks to the hundreds of residents who have written objecting to the map, along with objections by the University of Maryland and other stakeholders, the Resolution sponsors made some map revisions that will still affect parts of District 1. The bad news is the following:
● Vansville Heights, North Creek Farms, and the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center will still be moved to District 4.
● The Buck Lodge area will all be moved to District 2.
● The Autoville Drive area (i.e., west of Route 1) will be moved to District 3.
In addition, a portion of College Park between Route 1 and the eastern municipal boundary will be moved from District 3 to District 1. Council Member Turner explained why this move made sense. Many affected residents consider this bad news for a number of legitimate reasons. This odd-shaped extension has the effect of relocating former District 3 council member Eric Olson into District 1. He is currently a candidate for District 3, and this action could prevent him from running for Council.
All requests by the four opposing members for minor revisions were rejected. The video of the entire Council session is available by clicking the first link in this article. Council Member Turner reminded everyone that Redistricting is inherently a political process. “Maryland Matters” identified three potential Council candidates that were redistricted in a manner to preclude their candidacies; the article is here: https://bit.ly/3lWTRWG. Nonetheless, Council Members Franklin and Davis have stated that the impact on candidates was not a consideration.
Council Member Franklin defended the process (https://bit.ly/30Muyyo) and the result, stating that many people simply did not understand the process, that the Council has followed the Charter to the letter, that the process has been far more transparent than in the past, and that the public will be heard on November 16th. Council Member Davis (https://bit.ly/3aYbP4B) encouraged people that did not understand the process to read the County Charter (https://bit.ly/RedistrictingCode).
Concerned constituents will have the opportunity to participate in the public hearing, which is scheduled to be November 16th. Visit https://bit.ly/3vupjyB for guidelines regarding testimony. There will be two options:
● The Council could approve the new proposed Councilmanic District Map, also known as the “Davis Map”
● The Council could take no action, in which case, the Redistricting Commission’s (https://bit.ly/RedistrictingCommissionMap) will become law by default.
I remain unconvinced that the boundary changes selected were based on solid policy grounds instead of bluntly advancing personal political interests. Such conclusions are up to each individual to make based on their own observations and interpretations of the facts in front of them. I will continue to oppose this new map, and I urge you to contact all of the members of the County Council, including the At-Large Council Members, since they also represent you, by going here https://bit.ly/3pnlhqA.
My staff and I will continue to update you as we receive additional information. Please keep in touch. Email us at email@example.com or call 301.952.3887. Se habla Español. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TomDernogaD1