Statement Regarding Redistricting Commission Map Decision from a member of the Howard County Councilmanic Redistricting Commission

The following statement was provided by Chris Oxenham (member of the Howard County Councilmanic Redistricting Commission):

This afternoon the Howard County redistricting commission voted in favor of map E over map F by a 4 to 3 vote. As expected the vote went by party lines. All of the commissioners took time out of their schedule to work on this very difficult task. It was a pleasure getting to know my fellow commissioners. While the vote ended in disagreement, the commissioners worked together in a very respectful manner.

My disappointment lies in the fact that the Brampton Hills and Wheatfield neighborhoods gave the most testimony, the most compelling testimony, and yet still are not in the appropriate district with their common neighborhoods. I can certainly understand the frustration these folks must be feeling and I am disappointed that the commission in the end did not finally put their neighborhoods back into their rightful district. It was my view that this commission should have addressed this prior mistake.

It was also very disheartening to see a close ally of the County Executive and former chair of this commission give inflammatory testimony filled with baseless accusations about the neighbors of Brampton Hills and Wheatfield who testified. That is the type of intentionally divisive behavior that only further divides our community.

It is unfortunate that after all the compelling testimony, these neighborhoods remain divided from their adjacent neighborhoods. Their schools and local businesses all reside outside of their district. In the future I certainly hope that this process changes as it feels broken. My suggestion to have this committee improved is to have a requirement that public testimony from neighborhoods be more of a requirement for making decisions. Another improvement would be to have a requirement that the same people cannot serve on this commission more than once. In the end I hope the community comes together to realize that this commission needs changes in the future.

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You can watch the meeting from November 9th here: https://howardcounty.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=4780

Here is a look at Map E that will will go forward to the County Council:

More information about redistricting in Howard County can be found here: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/About-Us/Commissions-Task-Forces-and-Special-Reports/Councilmanic-Redistricting-2021

Scott E

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