BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — A public hearing was held on Tuesday to discuss Baltimore County’s controversial redistricting plan.
The hearing, which was virtual, invited dozens of speakers to voice their concerns directly to county council members.
“We believe the current plan unlawfully dilutes the votes of minority residents,” one speaker said.
Opponents of the proposed plan is urging the county to go back to the drawing board. They believe the plan will silence minority voters, who make up nearly half of the county’s population.
Currently, the plan is proposing to maintain a white majority in six of seven council districts.
“No majority white district has ever elected a non-white council person,” one speaker who opposes the plan said. “So we have every reason to believe that this map once again will give us six or seven white council members in a 47 percent non-white county.”
Robert Latshaw, who is the chairman for the county’s redistricting commission, which was tasked to come up with the plan, defended their recommendations during the meeting.
He said he is well aware of the county’s diversity, but added it was too hard to create more than one majority black district because the population is too spread out.
“It was not easy or practical for us to be able to make two districts where there was a very high majority of African-Americans,” he said. “I don’t believe people vote because of color or for color.”
Ryan Coleman, who is the president of the Randallstown NAACP, is proposing a plan that would create three minority-majority districts.
Coleman was one of the speakers at the hearing and expressed concerns about the plan violating the Voting Rights Act.
“All we are asking for is a district in which an African American could win,” he said.
Coleman said the county council could face a lawsuit if it chooses to keep the plan in place.
The county is expected to hold another hearing on the plan ahead of the council’s vote, which is planned for December 20th.