A funny thing happened on the way to redistricting in Harford County.
Harford County Council redistricting is required by the county charter once every ten years to ensure that Council districts are “compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population”. To that end, the Harford County Council proposed redistricting legislation in mid-October that would re-assign some county residents among the county’s six existing Council districts. The catch is that two of those re-assigned residents, Bob Frisch and Cassandra Beverley, are also elected members of the Harford County Board of Education and, as such, are required by state law to live in the Council district they represent.
The state law, which outlines the rules for school board membership in Harford County, doesn’t specifically address members who might be redistricted out of their seats. But the possibility that School Board Members Frisch and Beverely, currently representing Districts A and B respectively, would be forced to resign when county redistricting takes effect early next year, was enough to send local officials searching for clarification late last week.
Bob Frisch, a high school teacher living in Joppa, was elected to the school board in 2010 in District A but would be shifted into District B under the proposed redistricting plan. Cassandra Beverley, an attorney living in Abingdon, was elected at the same time in District B, and would be moved under the proposal to District F, Havre de Grace. The third elected school board member, Board Vice-President Rick Grambo of District D, North Harford, is unaffected by the redistricting plan.
If the redistricting plan becomes law, and if Frisch and Beverley decide to run for re-election, they will certainly have to do so in their new districts. Oddly, Frisch would have to run for the seat currently held by Beverley.
Of more pressing concern last week was the requirement that school board members step down when they no longer live in the district they represent, as called for in the state legislation establishing school board elections in Harford County:
“A member from a councilmanic district shall be a resident of that district.
A member from a councilmanic district who no longer resides in that district may not continue as a member of the county board.”
State Sen. Barry Glassman, sponsor of Harford’s 2009 school board legislation, told The Dagger that he contacted the Maryland Attorney General’s office after the questions about Frisch and Beverley were brought to his attention by local officials attending a PTA legislative forum last Thursday. Citing a response from Katherine Rowe in the AG’s office, Glassman said that since the Harford school board law is based on councilmanic districts, Maryland case law would not allow sitting school board members to be displaced by redistricting.
That will keep both Frisch and Beverley in their seats for now. But if they seek re-election in 2014, they will be in the unusual position of running as incumbents on the school board and as newcomers to their districts.
Below is the Harford County Council legislation outlining the proposed changes to the six Council districts followed by a map of the proposed districts and a link to an election precinct locator based on home address.
Map of Proposed New Council Districts: