This letter was sent to Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones from African-American elected officials and community leaders in Maryland’s First District, with a copy to The Star Democrat for print.

We, the undersigned, are expressing our support for a new Congressional map that will give African-American voters in Maryland’s First District a voice. We urge you to use your political power to create a competitive, balanced First District where the voices and votes of all residents matter, and where the outcomes of elections are not predetermined by the district lines.

For the past decade, our district has been represented by Congressman Andy Harris, who has repeatedly stoked racial tensions, embraced conspiracy theories, and espoused a hateful, dangerous ideology, which negatively impacts our communities.

Unfortunately, under the current map of the First District, African-American voters are at a significant disadvantage to change our representation. The existing district lines have empowered an extremist to represent us, with little fear of retribution for any of his actions or comments.

As part of the redistricting process that takes place every 10 years, we propose the creation of a new First District map, similar to the one that existed before 2012, that is competitive and balanced, allowing African-American residents — and all residents — to use our voices and our votes to render a verdict on Congressman Harris’s tenure in Congress.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland has one of the oldest and proudest Black communities in the country. We stand on the shoulders of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, who were enslaved here and won their freedoms here. Today, our communities are strong, vibrant, and proud. If the Legislature chooses to push forward a map that continues to silence us for the next 10 years, it will be a grave disservice.

We urge you to design a map that creates a more balanced First District, one that gives Black voters the power to participate in choosing our representative with the confidence that the deck does not begin stacked against us. Anything less, given our current representation, would break our faith in good governance.

RICHARD M. POTTER JR.

President of Talbot County NAACP Branch

THE REV. ELLSWORTH TOLLIVER

Chestertown Councilmember

DONCELLA WILSON

Denton Town Councilmember

TODD J. NOCK

Pocomoke City Councilmember

ANDRE V. JOHNSON

Harford County Councilmember

NIVEK M. JOHNSON

Kent County School Board Member

WANDA BOYER

Kent County

ALBERT BROOKS

Talbot County

MARY DENNARD

Dorchester County

LAWRENCE DIGGS

Harford County

KELI L. GOLDSBOROUGH

Queen Anne’s County

TARA HILL-COURSEY

Caroline County

ADRIAN R. HOLMES

Dorchester County

OMEAKIA JACKSON

Dorchester County

MIKAYLA LINDSAY

Wicomico County

WAYNE OUTLAW

Dorchester County

DR. MICHAEL SAVOY

Wicomico County

TASHA THOMAS

Wicomico County

PAUL TUE III

Queen Anne's County

AARON A. TURNER

Kent County

LYNETTE WONGUS

Dorchester County

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