ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A Calvert County legislator slammed Montgomery County for not having enough Republican representation on the county council and even proposed an amendment to try and change that. This is a battle that took some state legislators by surprise.
The debate was over House Bill 655, which would change Maryland law so that the election of a county commissioner to represent a certain district would be decided by the district the commissioner would actually represent and not by the county overall.
Certain legislators point out the rules date back to the Jim Crow era where systems in place purposefully disenfranchised communities of color.
Maryland Delegate Brian Crosby (D-St. Mary’s County) introduced the bill, telling FOX 5 this is about Democracy and that people should have the ability to choose who represents them in every level of government.
The bill says four counties, Calvert, Charles, Queen Anne’s, and St. Mary’s counties, operate under a hybrid structure, where no matter if they represent a certain district or the county as a whole, all of the county commissioners have to elected by the voters at large.
"The other candidates could win Districts 2, 3 and 4. Even though you won District 1 – would represent District 1’s interest, the other candidate would end up going to the board," said Del. Crosby.
Calvert County would be one of the jurisdictions affected by this change.
First reported by the blog, "Maryland Matters," Delegate Mark Fisher (R-Calvert County) fired back, accusing Montgomery County of being the worst offender of disenfranchising Republicans. He noted there is not one Republican on the County Council, despite the county having over 100,000 registered voters.
Fisher proposed his own amendment that would essentially redraw Montgomery County maps to ensure at least one Republican is elected to the council. That amendment was rejected.
"If there were at least one voice in Montgomery County to represent those 100,000 Republicans, just one voice, maybe that one voice could speak out and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to open the schools," said Del. Fisher, who also told FOX 5, "There is no other countervailing opinion or voice that’s ever heard in that county because of the way they’ve so successfully disenfranchised diversity of thought."
FOX 5 reached out to the Montgomery County, Maryland GOP.
We also spoke with Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker, who called Del. Fisher’s charges, "ridiculous."
Offering to give him a tour of the county, the Hucker countered, "I would point out that we have Republicans serving right now on our county boards and the WSSC Water Board and other boards, appointed by the council. And the county council just voted to appoint several Republicans to our redistricting board, which will draw all the new districts for the county council – it’s a non-partisan board."
Hucker also suggested the GOP back more moderate Republicans in the Montgomery County area, noting the county’s support for Republican Governor Larry Hogan in 2018.
Del. Crosby, who introduced the bill, says this battle has nothing to do with his legislation. He also said the bill passed the Maryland House and is on its way to the Senate with change. The bill now proposes system changes for both county commissioners and school boards, which Crosby said could actually impact Montgomery County.