The Majority-Minority District Question
Redistricting proposal raises question: Can minorities win elections without specially drawn districts?
More than a decade ago, the Baltimore County Council had never had an African-American member.
It was during the redistricting effort following the 2000 Census that the County Council created the 4th Council District in northwest Baltimore County, establishing the county's first majority-minority district.
A decade later, the council faces another redistricting effort, and some, including county Republican Central Committee Chairman Tony Campbell, are calling for a second such district to be added.
Campbell's comments during a redistricting commission meeting last night were the second time this month that a resident has asked for another majority-minority district in the county.
Al Mendelsohn, first vice chairman of the county Republican Central Committee, wrote on my Facebook page this morning that Democrats would have some explaining to do if they rejected this idea. (By the way, you can join the conversation on my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter.)
Mendelsohn also suggested that drawing such districts are the only way minorities can win elections.
Here's what Mendelsohn wrote:
"By creating majority minority districts you preserve established communities like Towson and Randallstown. You group people of similar political opinions because of shared history. If this were to happen the deliberate dilution of the Republican vote in the First Council district would allow the seat to be won by a qualified Republican like Steve Whisler. If the Democrats do not go along with this blueprint, they will have to explain to the 55% of their party in Baltimore County that is either Black or Hispanic why they can only win in one Primary in Baltimore County."
Of course there are other views.
David Greene testified last night that drawing such districts is incompatible with the law, which states that new districts should be drawn with an eye toward keeping communities together as much as possible.
"There's conflict between keeping communities united and minority majority districts," Greene told the commission. "You can't have one and the other."