Governor Larry Hogan has appointed six citizen members to the Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering. The Sixth Congressional District currently serves the Germantown and most of the UpCounty Montgomery County area from Potomac and runs through most of Frederick County and west to Washington, Allegheny, and Garrett counties.
Governor Hogan announced the creation of the emergency commission in response to a federal court ruling in the case of Benisek v. Lamone in November 2018 requiring the state to redraw the 6th Congressional District.
The decision by a three-judge panel in the United States District Court ruled that the boundaries of the Maryland Sixth District were unconstitutional, and ruled that new boundaries had to be drawn before the 2020 election and the boundaries would be redrawn again prior to the 2022 election after the data from the 2020 census was available.
The case, Benisek vs. Lamone, was brought by seven registered Republicans who challenged the constitutionality and the way the State of Maryland redrew the boundaries of the Sixth District in 2011. The plaintiffs contend that Democrats in Annapolis redrew the district’s lines to envelop parts of heavily Democratic Montgomery County.
Prior to the district being redrawn longtime Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett held the seat but lost after the addition of Montgomery County to the district allowing Montgomery County Democrat and current Congressman, Rep. John Delaney to win the seat. Delaney gave up the seat this year to run for president in the 2020 election. In January, the seat will go to another Democrat from Montgomery County, Congressman-elect David Trone.
Days after the court ruling, Maryland’s staunchly Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh, filed a Notice of Appeal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Benisek v. Lamone, requesting a hearing before the Supreme Court. The Office also filed a Consent Motion to Stay and requested an expedited briefing to allow time to implement the Court’s decision in the event of an adverse ruling.
The Emergency Commission on Sixth Congressional District Gerrymandering will be charged with developing new boundaries in an open and transparent manner to address all constitutional violations; comprised of nine members, including three registered Democrats, three registered Republicans, and three registered voters not affiliated with either party; and the commission’s meetings are required to be open to the public and live-streamed.
“Free and fair elections are the very foundation of American democracy and the most basic promise that those in power can pledge to the citizens we represent,” said Governor Hogan. “This nonpartisan redistricting commission will result in a fair, open, and transparent redistricting process for the sixth congressional district.”
In November 2018, the governor named Judge Alexander Williams, a registered Democrat, and Walter Olson, a registered Republican, as co-chairs, and named Ashley Oleson, an unaffiliated voter, to serve on the commission. The governor also announced that six additional members would be chosen from the public, which have now been selected:
Hogan has appointed the following individuals: Maury S. Epner, Esq.; Deborah Lundahl; Christopher Howard; Luis T. Gutierrez, Jr.; Matthew Douglas, Esq.; and Kathleen Jo Parson Tabor, Esq.
The commission consists of two Democrats, two Republicans, and two Independents. Two of the members are Montgomery County residents and a third has worked for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Maury S. Epner, Esq., a registered Republican, lived in the 6th Congressional District for more than 30 years, and has served as a federal prosecutor, private practice attorney, and former adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He currently resides in Montgomery County.
Luis T. Gutierrez, Jr., a registered Democrat, has over 20 years of experience in biopharmaceutical and medical technology industries, and is currently a self-employed consultant to medical product developers. He is also the former president, CEO and board member of Theranostics Health, Inc. (now Avant Diagnostics). He resides in Montgomery County.
Deborah Lundahl, a registered Republican, currently resides in Frederick County where she serves on the County Ethics Commission, and works as an accounting manager for Redeemer Lutheran Church and program administrator for Building Veterans. She is a former public information officer for the Carroll County Government and nursing home program coordinator for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Christopher Howard, a registered Democrat living in Anne Arundel County, is a software engineer with Clarity Business Solutions in Severna Park, Md. and an adjunct professor of Computer Science and Technology at University of Maryland University College. His career focus is supporting technology development in defense and aerospace industries, and he is a member of local chapter of National Society of Black Engineers.
Matthew Douglas, Esq. is registered as an unaffiliated voter and currently resides in Montgomery County. He works as a senior policy analyst for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has experience as a civics teacher, and has worked in the Kentucky Attorney General's Office.
Kathleen Jo Parson Tabor, Esq. is registered as an unaffiliated voter and works as a solo practitioner attorney in Elkridge, Md. She serves as a gubernatorial appointee on the Maryland Horse Industry Board and is founder and chair of the Agriculture Law Section of the Maryland Bar Association. She currently resides in Howard County.
Commission members were chosen after an extensive review of over 300 citizen applications received through the commission’s online portal. Any Maryland voter who was registered with the same party, or not affiliated with the Republican or Democratic parties, for a minimum of three years was eligible to apply, provided they were not a candidate or member of Congress, an officer or employee of a political party or committee, a staff member for the governor, legislature, or Congress, or a current or former registered lobbyist. Applications were reviewed by Judge Williams, Olson, and Oleson, who then submitted recommendations to the governor.
Captions: Maryland Sixth Congressional District.