Redistricting Efforts To Begin In Worcester

SNOW HILL – County officials this week agreed to have staff begin the redistricting process in the wake of the 2020 Census.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to have staff utilize department software to begin developing potential map options.

“Some changes are going to have to be made,” said Jennifer Keener, the county’s director of development review and permitting. “Some districts will have to lose population and others pick it up.”

According to the 2020 Census, Worcester County experienced a growth in population and a shift in population across the existing election districts. As a result, Keener said her department would be launching the redistricting process. She said the department had software that would simplify the process but that the commissioners could also create a redistricting commission.

“You can certainly establish one if you wish or we are fully prepared to begin preparing those maps in house for your review and having some options available,” she said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if the county could get public input during the process.

“Public hearings are required anyway. Whether you want to present one or more options at those hearings we can certainly do that,” Keener said. “Once we have maps developed we’ll come back to you to set up those public hearings, to decide where in the county we want to have the meetings held and get that feedback.”

Bertino said Ocean Pines was an area that had a population increase and asked whether the people the district would lose would go to District 6 or District 3.

Keener said that because Ocean Pines – District 5 – was nearly surrounded by District 6, District 5 would lose people to District 6. What happens to District 6 would then need to be determined.

“So it would have a rippling effect,” Bertino said.

Keener agreed and said that the changes were not made house by house but rather by Census tract.

Commissioner Ted Elder said he didn’t think the 2020 Census was accurate, as his district had lost population when he’d seen numerous new homes built.

“I just wanted to make the statement this is all going to be based on faulty Census figures,” he said.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic expressed similar concerns. Staff noted that people had to fill out the Census form to be counted.

“With these gaps and discrepancies we’ve seen, if people don’t fill out the form they’re not necessarily getting counted,” Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to have staff proceed with developing map options.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.