Local Leaders Speak Out Against Ballot Question 5 (Video)
Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews was joined on Oct.15 by more than two dozen elected officials and community leaders to express their opposition to Maryland’s new Congressional map and to urge voters to repeal it on Nov. 6 by voting against Ballot Question 5. Take a look.
Speakers also called for fundamental redistricting reform including the establishment of an independent redistricting commission.
In addition to County Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer, those in attendance included State Delegates Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery) and Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s); Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio; Rockville City Councilmembers Tom Moore, Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala; Gaithersburg City Councilmembers Jud Ashman, Cathy Drzyzgula and Henry Marraffa; and Takoma Park City Councilmember Seth Grimes.
Delegates Gutierrez and Aisha Braveboy, along with Montgomery Delegates Al Carr and Luis Simmons, voted against the current Congressional map in last October’s special session.
Others who attended Monday included Greg Rabidoux, a national redistricting expert, with Common Cause of Maryland; Democratic precinct chairs Michael Cogan, Sheldon Fishman, Margaret Greene and Steve Shapiro; businessman/philanthropist Josh Rales; and community leaders Art Brodsky and Michael Lin.
Following the 2010 Census, Governor Martin O’Malley proposed redrawn boundaries for the eight Maryland Congressional districts. The General Assembly approved the new districts, but opponents gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot challenging the boundaries. If a majority of voters oppose Question 5, it would not affect the 2012 Congressional results. However, the Governor and General Assembly would be required to redraw the boundaries for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections. Repeal also could lead to the establishment of an independent redistricting commission, as several other states have done.
“Maryland’s new Congressional map is so blatantly gerrymandered that District 3 looks like blood spatter from a crime scene, ridiculously including the far-flung communities of Annapolis, Towson and parts of Silver Spring, while excluding most communities between,” said Councilmember Andrews. “More than half of Montgomery County residents were moved to a different Congressional district—almost all of them moved for purely political reasons.
“Fortunately, Democrats and Republicans opposed to the new Congressional district lines gathered enough petition signatures to give Marylanders the opportunity to repeal this gerrymander in November by voting against Question 5. Since political parties gerrymander whenever they can, Maryland needs an independent redistricting commission, a model used by several states. But there is no chance the Governor and General Assembly will establish one unless Marylanders first reject this extreme gerrymander by voting against Question 5.”
Delegate Gutierrez presented figures that showed minority population in new Congressional Districts 3, 6 and 8 were severely reduced, leaving the white population in each of those three districts at a minimum of 62 percent. Minority representation was reduced from 58 percent to 37 percent in District 3; from 53 percent to 36 percent in District 6; and from 47 percent to 36 percent in District 8.
“Rather than promoting increased opportunities for minority Congressional representation, the redistricting map fragments and redistributes minority populations,” she said. “In each new district, minority proportional representation is so diminished as to make it nearly impossible to elect minority candidates in Congress over the next 10 years.
“We can do better. By rejecting a flawed redistricting plan, Maryland voters will be giving our Maryland legislators a second chance to respect every person’s equitable representation as the principals of the federal Voting Rights Act.”