HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — The City of Havre de Grace on Thursday filed a lawsuit alleging the Harford County Government violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act when it created a new map for the county council districts.

The suit claims the Harford County Council met in secret two or more times in October to discuss redistricting proposals. The council on Dec. 7 approved of the new map by a vote of 6-1. The council’s only Democrat, Andre V. Johnson, who represents District A covering Edgewood and other southern areas of the county, was the only “no” vote.

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“I am deeply troubled by these allegations,” said Havre de Grace Mayor William T. Martin. “It should go without saying that the public’s business should always be conducted in the open for the public to observe, absent well-recognized exceptions to the Open Meetings Act.  Since the beginning of the redistricting process, I have urged the County Council to meet in public and introduce the Redistricting Commission’s plan in the form of a bill and modify it, if they saw fit, through amendments.  After doing additional research, we believe that previous case law sets the precedent that the Harford County Council must do just that.”

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The lawsuit also claims that the County Council violated the county charter with the introduction of a single redistricting proposal that ignores the Harford County Redistricting Commission’s report.

In a November presentation before the Havre de Grace City Council, Martin said the county’s old map was gerrymandered, with the town cut off from the rest of District F. He threw his support behind a proposed map that would combine the municipalities of Havre de Grace and Aberdeen in one district.

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CBS Baltimore Staff