Judge Throws Out Prince George's County Redistricting Map

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A Prince George’s County judge threw out a controversial redistricting map that opponents called blatant gerrymandering.

A commission proposed only minor changes to council districts to reflect growth and population shifts, but in a surprise move, Council member Derrick Davis presented a radically different version, moving large cities like Adelphi, College Park and Greenbelt into other districts.

Candidates who were expected to challenge incumbents in 2022 were drawn out of their districts.

"It was simply about ensuring that the power dynamic stayed the same on the council," Krystal Oriadha said.

Six members of the council approved the map after many citizens begged council members not to divide longstanding communities. 

Those in favor of the new district map called it a long-needed improvement to community boundaries. 

Oriadha lost by 30 votes in the last election and had already started campaigning for her next one in District 7 when the council moved her city to another district. She moved to another home in her district.

“I thought long and hard about it, and it was something that I wanted to fight against, what they were doing," she said.

Former Council member Eric Olson is running again in District 3. The new map drew his neighborhood of some 20 years out of his district.

“The gerrymandering, it happened, cutting candidates out, doing it at the last minute, pulling out a secret map at the last minute – none of this is acceptable," he said.

A judge ruled Monday that the council’s changes were not law and directed the county to uphold the commission’s original map. The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed last week.

The judge said the council didn't follow proper procedure and ordered the county to return to the commission's original map.

"Of course, I was very happy about the ruling and I'm looking forward to getting back out on the campaign trail," Olson said.

A spokesperson with the Prince George’s County Council released a statement saying they will appeal the judge’s decision immediately. All candidates must file to run by Feb. 22.

News4 has been requesting interviews with council members who supported the council's map since October. No one has agreed to an interview.

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