Redistricting shakes up Baltimore County’s upcoming local elections

Sarah Miicke
Sarah Miicke (David Stuck)

Come the primary election next month, and again during the general election in the fall, residents of Owings Mills, Pikesville and other neighboring communities may find themselves voting for different candidates than they were expecting.

This is due to a redrawn legislative map created by the General Assembly that is expected to be used in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Sarah Miicke, deputy director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

The BJC will hold a virtual event to provide an overview of what this means for the community on June 15, in collaboration with Jews United for Justice and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Howard County. On June 30, BJC and JUFJ will also hold an in-person “Candidates Carnival” for voters in districts 11, 40, 41, 43 and 46 to meet their candidates in an informal setting.

The new map divides District 11 into two new subdivisions, 11A and 11B, Miicke explained. District 11A is composed of Owings Mills and Green Spring Junction and goes all the way up to Oregon Ridge Park. Meanwhile, Pikesville, Stevenson and Mays Chapel are a few of the areas that will be located in 11B.

“For the Jewish Community, the majority live in the greater Pikesville region, but many live in 11A,” Miicke said in an email. “The JCC is in Owings Mills (11A).”

According to Maryland Matters, Karl Aro — chair of The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission and a former head of the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services — said during a virtual meeting that the subdivisions were established in response to public feedback for the creation of a single-member, majority-Black district around Owings Mills. Aro added that it was also done in order to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

According to Miicke, District 11A will be a small majority-minority district, which means the majority of residents are racial or ethnic minorities.

While both subdivisions will be represented by the same senator, District 11A will be represented by one delegate, while 11B will have two, Miicke said. Of the three delegates currently representing District 11, all of them live in District 11B, and so are ineligible to run in 11A.

Incumbent State Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D) is currently running for the senate seat, said Miicke, as is Republican Ruth Goetz.

The three incumbent delegates of District 11 — Democrats Lisa Belcastro, Dana Stein and Jon Cardin — will be running in the July primary for District 11B. Two of them will continue on to the general election, where they will face Republicans Jim Simpson and Tyler Stiff.

Democrat Cheryl Pasteur is currently running unopposed for the delegate seat of District 11A, Miicke added.

When asked if the new map would affect Jewish voters in District 11 in any tangible ways, Miicke noted that it is possible that voters may need to go to a different polling station, as their locations often change with each cycle.

Matan Zeimer
(Courtesy of Matan Zeimer)

The June 15 event will focus on “the redistricting process, the outcomes, and what this means for residents and the General Assembly moving forward,” said Matan Zeimer, a Maryland community organizer at JUFJ, in an email. “We will then explore some of the most significant changes that resulted from this process to get participants up to speed on the new district maps as we near the upcoming elections.

“Generally, I think that it is critical for us to continue educating residents about the legislative process and about the impact they can have on the legislative process,” said Zeimer, a resident of Baltimore and member of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl, on the importance of events like this. “It is our responsibility to join others throughout the region in continuing to advocate for a more just and equitable Maryland for all residents.”

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