2021 | Government

UPDATED: Redistricting commission reveals three finalists for new County Council map

Group is scheduled to submit its final recommendation next month

share this

The county's redistricting commission during its meeting Wednesday night. The commission reviewed its final three proposals for maps with seven County Council districts.

Montgomery County Government Screenshot via Facebook

This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. Oct. 15, 2021, to include updated versions of the first two maps, along with the third map. It was updated again at 2:50 p.m. to clarify how commissioners will select the final map. 

A redistricting commission has revealed its final three maps for seven new County Council districts — all with Rockville and Gaithersburg in one district, but with variation along the county’s borders.

Since February, 11 commissioners have been working on new districts for the County Council, after voters approved a ballot measure in November 2020 expanding the size of the council from five to seven seats.

There will still be four at-large seats, representing the entire county, so the entire council will be 11 members starting next year.

Chair Mariana Cordier began Wednesday’s meeting of the commission by clarifying the next steps.

She said the commission will select one map, not two, to present to the County Council. Commissioners are scheduled to pick one of the three maps to send to the council during a meeting on Oct. 20.

Commissioners will receive feedback from the public on the three proposals and could make changes to the three finalists before selecting a final map. 

Previously, commissioners were going to send two maps to the County Council, but Cordier said the county charter requires one.

The charter also states the County Council holds a public hearing about that map, something the commission was previously planning to do.

When discussing the three maps, commissioners explained their rationale by listing the demographics of precincts and geographic areas, and based on feedback they received from communities and the ethnic and racial populations in specific areas. 

All three maps kept Rockville and Gaithersburg in the same district, which commissioners previously voted to do. But outside of that, each map was different. The commissioners focused on the following when drafting them:

  • Compactness
  • Contiguity 
  • Equal population
  • Minority representation
  • Preservation of political subdivisions
  • Preservation of community landmarks/areas

Commissioner David Stein presented the first map of the meeting. Other than the district with Rockville and Gaithersburg, the others were:

 

  • A district upcounty, spreading from Damascus and through Germantown, through Darnestown and parts of North Potomac
  • A district that contains Potomac, Bethesda and Friendship Village
  • A smaller district geographically, that contains Wheaton and stretches west to North Bethesda and north through Glenmont and Aspen Hill
  • An east county district, stretching from Leisure World west to Burtonsville and from Spencerville south to White Oak
  • A district that includes Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Kensington and much of Chevy Chase
  • A district east of Gaithersburg, stretching from Olney and Sandy Spring up to Goshen, although it omits a little of Goshen and includes a southern portion of Damascus

Commissioner Jason Makstein presented the second map, which included the Rockville-Gaithersburg district and:

 

  • A district in the northwestern part of the county that borders the Potomac, stretching from Dickerson to North Potomac and from Poolesville to Boyds and Germantown
  • A district in the northeastern part of the county, spanning from Clarksburg and Damascus down south to parts of Olney and Brookeville, including Montgomery Village
  • A district that includes much of Potomac and Bethesda, and goes down to the D.C. border
  • A district that stretches from Takoma Park through Silver Spring, and includes much of Kensington and North Bethesda
  • A district that covers from Wheaton, through Glenmont and Aspen Hill, to Derwood
  • A district in east county that stretches from part of Leisure World and Olney to the county border, and from the White Oak area up to Brighton

Commissioner Imad Aldean Ahmad presented the final map, but realized the one shown on screen was a little different from the final one he submitted. County officials were still working on finalizing that map as of Thursday night.

County officials released the third map on Friday, which can be seen below.

No matter what the commissioners choose as the final map, it is only a recommendation.

The council has 30 days after it receives the map and the commission’s report to hold a public hearing. The commission hopes to get the report to the County Council by early November.

Council members have 90 days to make changes to the final recommendation; otherwise, it becomes law, per the county charter.

Commissioners had suggestions and differences of opinion over the three proposed maps, but believe they have produced good work for the council.

Commissioner Bruce Goldensohn said the final product will be better than the final maps of roughly 10 or 20 years ago, because of the availability of precise census data and mapping technology.

“This map is going to be a good map, period,” Goldensohn, a Republican, said.

Sam Statland, a Democrat on the commission, agreed. The 11 members might have different political views, but they will produce a good final product, he said.

“I think everybody in this county will appreciate it now, and in the future,” Statland said.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com