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Wheatfield, Brampton Hills Move to District 2

The county executive did not accept a map that would have kept the Ellicott City neighborhoods in District 1.

The Wheatfield and Brampton Hills neighborhoods of Ellicott City will become part of District 2 as of Friday. 

Despite a public campaign urging County Executive Ken Ulman to sign into law a councilmanic map that would keep two neighborhoods in District 1, Ulman said in a statement Thursday that he would not do so. 

On March 5, the county council voted 3–2 to adopt an amended redistricting map, sponsored by Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty (D-District 4), that would leave the Ellicott City neighborhoods of Wheatfield and Brampton Hills in District 1 as opposed to moving them to District 2, as several alternative maps would have done.

Voting in favor of the amended map were Sigaty, Greg Fox (R–District 5) and Jennifer Terassa (D–District 3).

Courtney Watson (D-District 1) and Calvin Ball (D-District 2) voted against the map.

Since Ulman did not sign the amended map into law, a map proposed by the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission will go into effect on Friday. The proposed map places the two Ellicott City neighborhoods – as well as some parts of Elkridge – in District 2, which is otherwise mostly Columbia.

“After much consideration, I have determined that the bill, amended and adopted by a narrow margin, does not improve upon the map produced and recommended last year by the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission,” Ulman said in a statement.

He said the commission’s map was “better for the county as a whole.”

Several residents had sent the executive emails in the past week urging him accept the map that was approved by the County Council on a 3-2 vote on March 5.

The residents said that they had been active in Ellicott City, shopped at the nearby Long Gate shopping Center, attended the and were physically separated from Columbia by Route 100. 

The communities along Route 103 have similar interests, a common history, and parallel concerns for the future with other citizens in District 1 primarily because our neighborhood borders Rt. 103, and is boxed in by Routes 100, 29, and 104 ... This makes us geographically locked in as Routes 100 and 29 are major highways that cannot be safely crossed legally on foot or on bicycle.  I live, work, shop in Ellicott City and never have a reason to venture into Columbia. I am not saying this because I am denigrating Columbia, it is just the reality that I live with I just have no reason to go there and I try to patronize the local businesses in Ellicott City.

-Amy Francis

Emails from residents also expressed concern that the decision was based in political motives rather than the best interests of residents. While both Democrats and Republicans supported the amended map that would have kept Wheatfield and Brampton Hills in District 1, the commission’s map was supported by Democrats only.

Of the 39 people who submitted testimony about redistricting between October 2011 and February of this year, 28 were from Ellicott City residents requesting that their neighborhood remain in District 1.

Robert Callahan March 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I am completely disgusted with the County Executive for ignoring the wishes of the "majority" of people in this redistricting issue. Although 28 of the 39 people (72%-clearly a majority) who submitted official testimony to the County Council were affected citizens who wanted to stay in District 1, hundreds more showed up at several public hearings or wrote letters/emails with the same request. I knew from the beginning that this was a political battle and not one of community boundaries since the Democratic Party controlled the so called "citizen" redistricting committee and testified in support of the Commission's Plan. The County Exec should have sent a staffer to the Commission and Council public hearings and he would have found that a majority of residents did not support any of the Commission's proposals. The compromise amendment approved by a majority of the County Council moved fewer residents between districts than any of the Commission's plans. The Commission Plan moves 26,120 people compared to only 10,628 under the Council approved plan. Mr. Ulman is out of touch with the voters and we'll make sure he is not elected Governor or even Dog Catcher next year.

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