ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission held its third of several meetings for Southern Maryland residents specifically on June 23, to hear the public’s comments about the redistricting plans in Maryland. Although this meeting focused on the Southern Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s, they welcomed all Marylanders to express opinions.

“These listening public meetings are critically important. Hearing from citizens and their perspective on redistricting and map drawing is something that the commissioners are really interested in,” Alex Williams, meeting host and retired U.S. District Court Judge said. “Without the consideration of citizens of Maryland who are affected by the new boundary lines, the ultimate map submitted would be viewed with suspicion.”

During the meeting, many leaders in Southern Maryland expressed their concerns about communication, representation and the idea of single versus multi-member districts.

First, James McQueen from Calvert County expressed there is an issue with communication within counties. He says people aren’t sure who their district delegates are or which is their district. In most cases, people are focusing on making changes for an entire county, not a district, McQueen says.

“One issue we run into with redistricting is that they cut our state districts up between two different areas. With informing people and working with people within each area, it’s a lot harder for us to do our communication process,” McQueen said. “It’s kind of hard to work together as a team to help with the local issues and to help with the local information to pass through.”

McQueen suggested that the redistricting lines focus more on keeping the counties together rather than splitting them.

Additionally, VonTasha Simms from Charles County believed that Charles County specifically should have its own district because it is the biggest out of the Southern Maryland counties. As a result, it would make legislative issues easier to pass and more representation for Charles County.

“When we are talking about Charles County, they constantly group us into the SOMD region along with Calvert and St. Mary’s counties which gives us a problem with our legislative issues in Annapolis like funding resources,” Simms said. “Another issue is that our population in Charles County is much greater than Calvert and St. Mary’s counties in which I believe we can hold our own senatorial district, but they have the same representation that we have.”

Delegate Matt Morgan[R-St. Mary’s] explained that gerrymandering has been a major part of Maryland’s history, and the commission has to fix these transgressions. Morgan expressed that the single versus multi-member districts issue, which was mentioned in last week’s redistricting meeting, needs to be figured out.

“I just feel that redistricting in the past has used as a tool to people based on their political affiliations,” Morgan said. “What’s almost more concerning than legislative lines is the single versus multi-member districts.”

Even though everyone sees systemic flaws that they want redistricting to address, most seem appreciative to express their beliefs on the subject.

The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission will hold a virtual meeting on June 30, 2021, for Frederick, Allegany and Garrett County residents. To see the agenda for the event, click here.