Major Changes In New Wicomico District Map

SALISBURY — The Wicomico County Council this week got a report on the proposed redistricting plan for the five council member districts, which appears to meet the population requirements while preserving a minority-majority District 1.

Members of the Redistricting Committee presented their proposed version of the plan to the County Council on Tuesday. Every 10 years, the council district boundaries are revised based on population changes revealed by the U.S. Census. The committee was charged with redrawing the district lines to reflect five districts within an acceptable population range that should be contiguous where possible.

Committee member Joe Collins told council members on Tuesday the proposed plan meets the elected body’s stated goals, while preserving and actually expanding the minority percentage in District 1.

“I think it’s a very good map,” said Collins. “We had great support from the county staff and everybody did a great job. We’re incredibly pleased with the support we got from the county.”

One of the requirements was retaining a majority African-American population in District 1 to help ensure at least one minority member on the County Council. When the map was redrawn 10 years ago, the African-American population in District 1 came in at 54 percent, but had dipped to 48 percent recently because of population migrations. The map presented on Tuesday puts the minority population in District 1 at 59 percent.

Collins said there was consensus on the proposed map among the bi-partisan committee made up of both Democrats and Republicans.

“This was truly a bi-partisan effort,” he said. “There was not one dissenting vote on the final package, nor was there one dissenting vote on any of the motions.”

Collins told the council the final map includes some significant changes from the existing district map, changes that were necessary because of the requirements.

“We had to move part of Fruitland into District 3,” he said. “We reluctantly did this because of desire not to divide a municipality, but there was nowhere else to move but east. All of Pittsville and much of Willards was moved into District 3 and we used Route 50 as a natural boundary.”

A side-by-side look at the existing district map and the proposed district map shows remarkable changes in area for some districts, but Collins explained the population changes weren’t dramatic.

“Due to the rural nature of some areas, it looks like a lot of acreage was moved around, but the population in some of those areas is sparse,” he said.