SNOW HILL– A public hearing on the county’s redistricting plan is set for later this month.
This week, the Worcester County Commissioners introduced an emergency legislative bill to establish revised commissioner districts. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19.
According to the bill introduced by the commissioners this week, it is meant to establish revised commissioner districts in response to the shifting population identified in the 2020 US Census. The most recent Census found that the county’s population was 52,607, an increase of 1,059 residents (2%) since the 2010 Census. With the updated figures, Worcester County Development Review and Permitting Department staff were tasked with creating new maps for the county’s election districts, as some districts have grow while others have to shrink to ensure the population in each remains nearly equal.
The goal, according to the bill, is to strive for a population of 7,515 people in each of the seven commissioner districts while maintaining a majority minority district and in maintaining the current boundaries as much as feasible.
County staff worked for months to review the Census data and used software to generate potential district map options. A four-week public comment period resulted in 11 comments, Worcester County Development Review and Permitting Director Jennifer Keener told the commissioners last month. She said that two of them pertained to the actual maps while nine pertained to the timing of the process. Worcester County Board of Elections representatives previously voiced concerns regarding the timing of the process. The fact that there is a Feb. 9 filing deadline for candidates running for seats on the Worcester County Board of Education worried election officials. They said candidates needed to know for sure which district they were in before they could file.
In response to the concerns, the commissioners introduced the redistricting bill as emergency legislation, meaning it will go into effect as soon as it is passed.
This month’s public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19, in the commissioners’ chambers in the Worcester County Government building. To see a copy of the bill, visit the county’s website, co.worcester.md.us.