The Prince George’s County Council lost its fight over a redrawn district map in the Maryland Court of Appeals on Monday.
In February, a Prince George's County judge ruled that the county's map should be thrown out because the council did not follow proper procedure. The council passed the redrawn map by a resolution instead of a bill.
The council appealed the judge's decision and the Appellate Court ruled that the map should be disregarded. The county will abide by the original map crated by the county's redistricting commission.
The county's redistricting commission created a district map based on census data and population changes last year. The Prince George's County Council then redrew the county's district lines in a surprise move that sparked protest with some residents calling it gerrymandering.
The county's map drew out three candidates who were actively campaigning for council seats and divided some communities. With the court's decision, these candidates will now be able to run in their original districts.
“When you split an area, especially like Vansville, you are diluting our power and our chances of being successful,” said JD Perkins, who raised his family in Vansville, an unincorporated, historically majority Black community in Beltsville where residents depend on civic associations to protect their interests.
Perkins was among the county residents who sued the County Council after the disputed map radically changed council lines, dividing Vansville and another historic Black community into two council districts.
“I was hoping the judges would see it the same way, and they did,” Perkins said.
Erik Olson was already campaigning when he was drawn out of his district. A peninsula drawn around his home of more than 20 years put him in another district.
“The gerrymandering was wrong, and the court system saw that, both the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals saw that," he said.
Some critics say the candidates who were being blocked could change the power dynamic of the council if they win.
"I don't play political games,” Olson said. “I always am trying to work on behalf of the community and the residents to do what's right."
The Prince George's County map issue is settled, but the state and U.S. congregational maps are still in litigation. Because of that the filing date has been pushed back for the primary. The primary itself may be pushed back as well, but for now it's still in June.
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