A pair of Frederick County Council precincts may shift from one district to another, but the Republican council member whose district would lose voters believes the plan is fair.
The precincts include Libertytown and Unionville and are home to 4,430 voters — or 1.6 percent of the county’s electorate — in the eastern part of the county, and the move is part of a proposal adopted by the county’s citizen-run redistricting commission.
Under the proposal, the precincts would leave District 2, represented by Republican Councilman Steve McKay, and join District 5, overseen by Councilman Michael Blue, also a Republican.
McKay called the plan a “clean solution” to the commission’s goal of evenly distributing the county’s voters among its five council districts after recent U.S. Census data revealed how the county’s population grew.
“It keeps the district map fairly compact,” said McKay, who hasn’t officially announced plans to run for re-election.
Preliminary census data showed that, while the population in each of the county’s five council districts grew, there was a shift in the proportion of the county’s total population that each district comprises. District 5 became the least populous district, creating an opportunity to make the change.
In an attempt to bring the proportion of the county’s population within each district to as close to 20 percent as possible, the proposal would bump the District 5 proportion from less than 18 percent to more than 19 percent. It would decrease the District 2 proportion from more than 21 percent to 19.5 percent — changing it from the most populous district to the second least.
Residents in and around Libertytown and Unionville have much in common with communities in parts of District 5, in some cases more so than with areas in District 2, McKay said. The councilman added it would hurt to lose the reliably red precincts, though he would support the proposal if it came to the council.
“I could look at it from a partisan perspective, but that’s not appropriate,” McKay said.
McKay won his district in 2018 with more than 13,500 total votes, or 57 percent of the District 5 vote total, according to the State Board of Elections. Blue amassed more than 12,000 votes, or 64 percent of his district’s tally. A Republican also represented both districts on the county’s inaugural council, which was formed in 2014 after the county’s shift to a charter form of government.
The Frederick County Redistricting Commission is separate from those at the state level tasked with redrawing Maryland’s legislative and congressional districts.
The county’s commission comprises three Republican and three Democratic members, named to the council by the parties’ respective State Central Committees, and three unaffiliated members. The commission is only responsible for assessing the districts that five of seven County Council members represent. The other two council members are at-large.
The commission plans to hold a public hearing on Oct. 21 before forwarding the proposal to the council the following week.