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Monday, July 2, 2012

Will Howard County ever be its own Congressional district?

      Much of the controversy this year on reappointing Congressional districts has focused on states like Texas which has been using this reappointment to pick up Republican seats, it is understandable that each party tries to use reappointment to their favor.  Even though much of the increase in the population in Texas is because of the growth in Hispanic residents that would favor Democrats the Texas Legislature has reappointed its districts to have the four new districts to add four Republican Congressmen.
      Here in Maryland  most of the newly drawn districts has focused on the 6th district by adding Democratic voters from Montgomery County to a district that has been a safe district for Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett.  With this change it puts this district back in play for Democrats to pick up a Congressional seat.
      As you can see in the map above Howard County is once again divided up into three Congressional districts in the newly drawn Congressional districts that was developed by the Governor and the Legislature.  When we first moved to Columbia in the late 1970's we were in the 6th district with Congressman Goodloe Byron, a conservative Democrat.  This was when you had some conservative Democrats and some liberal Republicans.  At the time Howard County was changing politically from a safe conservative county to a more liberal county with liberal Democrat Columbia voters.  After the 1990 reapportionment we found ourselves in 3rd Congressional district of Ben Cardin.  For many of us in Columbia this was a better fit politically.  If I remember it right I even think we were represented by Rep. Cummings in the 7th District for awhile.  The past few years we have had Representative Sarbanes.
     As the population of Baltimore declines and the population of Howard County increases the percentage of the population in these districts will shift from Baltimore to our County.  While we may never have enough residents (about 600,000) to be our own Congressional district we may be more of a force in each of the districts.  In the past it has seemed as if Howard County residents were an afterthought in these districts. 
     Another factor has worked against us being kept intact as a county in Congressional districts is our location in the State.  We are a county in the middle of the State.  It seems too convenient to divide us up with the surrounding counties.  We have communities that have ties to towns in other counties.  Examples of this are Lisbon being tied to Mt. Airey and Carroll County, North Laurel and Savage being tied to PG County and Laurel and Elkridge to Baltimore County.  Some areas of the County have more connection to Montgomery County.  You can see these divisions when you ask people which hospital they use.
     There have been groups that have worked to move ahead with a plan to have the Congressional districts drawn by non partisan committees. One of these groups the Law School at Columbia University.  Their map shows how this reapportionment would look.  Canada and England now use the non partisan method to draw their district maps.  With partisanship at an all time high in the United States we are probably stuck with our present system for the foreseeable future.

P.S.
Storm related news:
       The Miller Branch & Historical Center continues to have no air conditioning following last Friday's storms. While we are working diligently to restore cooling, the earliest we expect to open will be at 1 pm on Monday, July 2
       

Howard County residents whose power is out remain welcome to stay cool for free at Columbia Association's outdoor pools. Three of CA's outdoor pools are still closed due to power being out: Dickinson, Faulkner Ridge and Longfellow. The other pools will be open for free to county residents without electricity from noon until close.

A list of pool locations and their operating hours is available at this link:


Meanwhile, Supreme Sports Club has had its power restored and reopened this morning. The pool will reopen at 8:30 a.m. However, the Package Plan Plus room in the facility will be closed until air conditioning is restored there.

The Columbia Swim Center also remains closed due to power outage.

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