Redistricting in Somerset County changes narrow area in Princess Anne only

County Commissioners schedule public hearing Nov. 9

Crisfield-Somerset County Times
Posted 10/22/21

PRINCESS ANNE — County Commissioner districts are expected to shift in Princess Anne with U.S. 13 being the dividing line from Mt. Vernon Road south to where Somerset Avenue ends at Ocean …

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Redistricting in Somerset County changes narrow area in Princess Anne only

County Commissioners schedule public hearing Nov. 9

Posted

PRINCESS ANNE — County Commissioner districts are expected to shift in Princess Anne with U.S. 13 being the dividing line from Mt. Vernon Road south to where Somerset Avenue ends at Ocean Highway.

This represent the only change recommended by the ad hoc redistricting committee following a review of the head count from the 2020 Census. It shows the county lost 11.43% of its population, now posted at 21,807 compared to 24,620 in 2010.

At their second meeting this month the three members present endorsed a map where Edgehill Terrace and the south end of Crisfield Lane are shifted from District 2 to District 3 with U.S. 13 being the east boundary.

On the east side of the highway from Maple Street south to Linden Avenue with Beckford and Beechwood streets as the east boundary, the proposal is to have those District 2 voters taken into District 1.

South of Linden Avenue, with Dryden Road and Beckford and Somerset avenues as the east boundary, voters now in District 3 are proposed to vote in District 1 next year.

The map titled “Redistricting 2020 Proposal 1aa” was selected from four drafts that kept each district within 5% of its goal population based on the 2020 Census. The ideal number is 4361 per district and this plan puts each one less than 5% plus or minus that figure — plus continues the two districts (1 and 2) as minority voting blocs with minorities making up 62.9% and 58.8% of all residents, respectively.

Committee member Matt Webster representing District 3 said by using the U.S. 13 divided highway as the district line rather than streets makes more sense so neighborhoods stay intact. Joe Howard representing District 2 also favored the arrangement as did Troy Selby, representing the Democratic Central Committee — although Mr. Selby was interested in also having the UMES campus taken into District 1 rather than remain in District 2.

While no alternative showed Mr. Selby’s proposal, it was explained that the campus population of 562 would cause much disruption to redefine precincts in other districts when UMES actually has very few voters. Julia Cox, interim board of elections supervisor, said most students on campus vote at their home address.

Because there was no quorum at the meeting the other committee members were polled by phone on their feeling about Map 1aa. They are Rondell Redding, District 1; Robert Gunter Jr., District 4; P.J. Purnell, District 5; Walter Woods, UMES; Kirkland Hall, NAACP; and Darci Wilson, Republican Central Committee. Following approval of Map 1aa the County Commissioners scheduled a public hearing 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 with a 10-day written comment period to follow before the final vote on Nov. 23.

The adopted map will then be finalized and put into text, and sent to the General Assembly as emergency legislation so it will be signed into law in time to get voters registered for the June 28 primary with early voting beginning June 16.

Unlike most other counties Somerset had to wait for its population figures to be adjusted so inmates at Eastern Correctional Institution were properly placed. However, County Administrator Doug Taylor said redistricting this year was “way ahead of where we were 10 years ago.”

Preparing the maps was Audrey Cornelius, the county’s former GIS technician who was hired out of retirement to work with the committee.

If Map 1aa is approved as expected the population totals will be 4425 in District 1; 4195 in District 2; 4478 in District 3; 4550 in District 4; and 4159 in District 5 with 4 and 5 deviating from the goal of 4361 by 4.33% and -4.63%, respectively. They are also the most white of the districts, at 75.5% and 67.1%, respectively.