Issue: In the election of November 2020, Montgomery County voters amended the County Charter to require seven new council districts, replacing the current five. Parkwood will become part of a new County District in early 2022 after the report of the Montgomery County Commission on Redistricting has been submitted and then amended and / or adopted by the County Council. What will the boundaries of that district be, and what other communities will be included in it?
- 11/18/2021: The Council held two public listening sessions to hear citizens views on the proposed redistricting plan. The video from the session on Nov 16 is here and the video from the session on Nov 18 is here. (Note that the session on Nov 18 begins at about the 5 minute mark.)
- 11/09/2021: The Council had a briefing by the Redistricting Commission on its report and map proposing new districts for the county. The briefing begins at approximately minute 34 of the archived video. Its report can be found here.
- The Redistricting Commission has proposed that Parkwood be a part of District 4, which includes the southeast portion of the County and goes north by northwest from there. This District includes Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Long Branch, West Silver Spring, Kensington, Garrett Park and North Bethesda.
- The commission will hold it final meeting on November 3 and will transmit its report to the County Council at the end of that meeting.
Background: [Excerpts from the report of the commission.]
The Montgomery County Charter, as amended by the voters in the 2020 general election, states that beginning with the November 2022 election, the County shall be divided into seven Council districts. Each Council district must be compact in form and be composed of adjoining (contiguous) territory. Populations of the council districts must be substantially equal. County Council will then consist of seven district members and four at-large members.
A redistricting commission was appointed by the Council in early 2021 to propose how the County should be divided into seven districts.
The Charter requires the Commission to submit its recommended plan for redistricting to the Council no later than November 15, 2021.
Within 30 days of receiving this report and recommended redistricting map, the Council must hold a public hearing. The mapped redistricting plan is customarily introduced as a bill at the request of the Redistricting Commission. The Council must take action on the Bill within 90 days of receiving the plan. The Council may amend the plan or approve the plan as submitted.
If within 90 days after presentation of the Commission’s plan, no other law reestablishing the boundaries of the Council districts has been enacted, then the plan, as submitted, becomes law.
Equal Protection – Federal Requirements. Council Districts must comply with federal laws mandating equality in voting: the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. [A more complete memorandum of legal issues is attached to the report.]
In addition to compactness and contiguity, the Supreme Court has recognized four traditional districting criteria: 1) Respect for political subdivisions; 2) Preservation of communities of interest; 3) Incumbency protection; and 4) Geography. The Commission considered race and ethnicity as a factor in redistricting, but it was not the predominant motivating factor for drawing the lines that separate districts.
Each new Council district proposed by the commission will have 14% of the County’s total population, approximately 151,000+ people.
Montgomery County’s population has continued to diversify since 2010. Nearly 60 percent of residents are people of color or of Hispanic origin. [see Table p. 9 in the report].
It is impossible to map seven compact, contiguous areas in the County, with 151,000 residents each, that do not include at least one District that is more than 50 percent non-Hispanic White.
The map recommended by the Commission has the following attributes: 1) all Commission ground rules were followed; 2) the historic growth of non-white populations are respected by the creation of six districts where communities of color are in the majority; 3) it creates an eastern County district where the non-Hispanic African American population is the largest ethnic/racial group; 4) it creates a Wheaton district where the Hispanic population is the largest ethnic/racial group; 5) it also creates up County districts that include much of the current District 2, with the addition of a northeastern up County district that does not divide Laytonville; 6) 7 of the Districts passed the Commission’s eye test for compactness.