- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

DENTON, Md. The only county in Maryland without a lawmaker representing it in Annapolis is hoping to change that by appealing to the state's highest court.
The last Caroline County resident to be a member of the General Assembly was Delegate Robert Thornton in 1994. That's unlikely to change under Gov. Parris N. Glendening's once-a-decade legislative redistricting plan, which will be used to elect the 47 senators and 141 House of Delegates members this year and in elections in 2006 and 2010.
The Glendening plan splits the sparsely populated county into L-shaped halves, with one part in the 37th District and the other in the 36th. The two sides, critics say, are so small in population that the largely conservative Caroline County probably will remain unable to win a seat in the House of Delegates.
"I have to feel the framers of the Maryland Constitution would not have envisioned a totally disenfranchised county," said Jack Cole, the president of the Caroline County Commission.
Added state Sen. Richard Colburn, a Dorchester Republican who represents part of Caroline: "Nobody ever said politics was fair, but this is unconscionable."
Caroline County's lawsuit seeking changes in the plan is one of 10 before the Court of Appeals, most of which challenge whether the districts are contiguous, compact and give due regard to county boundaries as mandated by law.
Retired Judge Robert Karwacki has been appointed to serve as special master of the case.
Mr. Cole is optimistic the map can be redrawn in a way that keeps more of Caroline County intact and improves its chances of representation.
But House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a member of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Redistricting, said it was impossible to configure such a plan without causing a ripple effect that leaves other counties without representation. Caroline, he said, was caught in the crossroads between district lines.
"After much juggling and investigating and working with the numbers, the commission concluded that there was no way to overcome that kind of a problem based on the constitutional requirements," said Mr. Taylor, Allegany Democrat.
Caroline is the only landlocked county on the Eastern Shore, stretching along Delaware's western border in the agricultural Middle Shore.
In population, it is the third-smallest after fellow Eastern Shore counties Kent and Somerset. According to the 2000 census, there were 29,772 residents in Caroline up 10.1 percent from a decade earlier..


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