Mayor Brandon Scott has handed City Council President Nick Mosby a humbling defeat on an issue that became a mounting source of friction between the two – the contours of Baltimore’s new district lines.
Last month, Mosby got the Council to set aside the redistricting plan the mayor had submitted in favor of Mosby’s plan to alter some parts of the 14 Council boundaries to account for population losses or gains in the 2020 census.
Shortly after the start of last night’s Council meeting, Mosby announced that he was informed, via email, that Scott had vetoed the bill.
Unable to pull together a veto vote on the spot, Mosby was left empty-handed.
The mayor’s map will automatically take effect on November 17, or four days before the next Council meeting, where a veto override could have been considered.
As The Brew has previously reported, the competing maps were very similar and would keep most voters in their present districts – and wouldn’t disturb the electoral fate of incumbent Council members.
“In no stretch of the imagination is this good governance” – Nick Mosby.
Mosby claimed his map was more democratic, reflecting the concerns of people who had testified at three town hall meetings he spearheaded.
Meanwhle, the mayor argued, in a statement released last night, that the bill the Council had passed on October 19 did not equalize population among the districts or “align with our vision that each district would significantly benefit from the presence of an anchor institution.”
“For these reasons, and due to the unwillingness to collaborate on a compromise map as suggested by my team, my administration was left with no choice but to make the difficult decision to reject this proposal,” Scott said.
“Due to an unwillingness to collaborate on a compromise map, my administration was left with no choice” – Brandon Scott.
Mosby responded angrily.
“In no stretch of the imagination is this good governance,” he told his colleagues. “A lot of time, a lot of attention [was] put into doing the right thing for the citizens of Baltimore, and I cannot say this is good government.”
His office later issued a press release saying the Council president will be introducing several charter amendments “to provide significant reform and structural change to how this city government operates through a number of processes, including redistricting.”
Mosby’s map would have altered the boundary lines of several districts to keep communities, such as Morrell Park, Upper Fells Point and Howard Park, from splitting into different districts.
The mayor’s map showed more concern for matching districts with “anchor institutions” – for example, moving Camden Yards and Spring Garden/Port Covington to Phylicia Porter’s southwest 10th District from Eric Costello’s District 11, which covers midtown and South Baltimore.
Both maps had to account for population losses on the East and West sides and residential growth along the harbor.
Both maps had to account for population losses of the East and West sides between 2010 and 2020, and population growth along the harbor waterfront. The goal was to equalize the 14 districts into blocs of roughly 42,000 residents each.
As a result, both plans moved Harbor East and Little Italy into East Baltimore’s 12th District and reunified Highlandtown, which is currently split between the 1st and 2d Districts.
With the map controversy now settled, candidates running for City Council seats in the 2024 election can safely start campaigning, knowing exactly where their districts lie.