The proposed D.C. Council’s subcommittee on redistricting map based on the 2020 census includes significant changes in the boundaries for Wards 6, 7 and 8 which have generated spirited discussion among District residents.
“We, the Ward 7 Democrats, the Ward 7 State Board of Education representative, leaders of the Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissions and leaders of the Ward 7 civic associations reject the proposed final redistricting map released by the subcommittee,” said a statement released by Wendell Felder, president of the Ward 7 Democrats, on Nov. 18, the day the subcommittee announced the redrawn boundaries.
On Nov. 19, the subcommittee chair, Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), joined by her colleagues Anita Bonds (D-At Large) and Christina Henderson (I-At Large) supported the proposed map unanimously.
The map will be considered by the full council on Dec. 7 and the last vote takes place on Dec. 21. By law, the council has the right to amend the subcommittee’s recommended map.
Summary of Map and Residents Concerns
Under the final map, Ward 8 heads west across the Anacostia River to take up part of the Navy Yard neighborhood, adding areas encompassing Nationals Park, Yards Park, Canal Park and the surrounding apartment buildings. The map also has Ward 7 — which already has neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River — extending further westward to 15th Street south of C Street NE, going south and protruding further west along Potomac Avenue SE.
In addition, Ward 7’s Kingman Park neighborhood would become part of Ward 6. The map features other changes including moving portions of the Shaw and Mount Vernon Square neighborhoods in Ward 6 into Ward 2. Ward 1 would take the Armed Forces Retirement Home from Ward 5 while Ward 1’s southern border would shift slightly along S Street NW.
Felder said “the map does not promote fair representation across all eight wards and disproportionately impacts residents of Ward 7.”
His biggest concern has to do with Kingman Park going back to Ward 6. He said his organization has an alternative map “that makes Kingman Park whole by restoring it to Ward 7.” He adds the alternative map incorporates the Rosedale neighborhood and uses 15th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue SE and Benning Road NE. “as a natural ward boundary.”
“The [alternative] map increases Ward 7’s population to a healthy 88,910 residents,” he said. “We believe it ensures equal representation, brings ethnic diversity to Ward 7 and keeps a community of interest [Kingman Park] together.”
Silverman has become aware of Felder’s concerns and in her remarks on Nov. 19, she said, “to the residents of Ward 7, we will keep talking.”
Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), whose ward must lose population for the city’s wards to have equitable balance, expressed wariness with the subcommittee’s map.
“For me, as the Ward 6 councilmember, this was always going to be a tough pill to swallow,” Allen said. “I know the math and I understand the reality: Ward 6 has got to shrink. And we’ve had a serious, public discussion on what makes the most sense. No matter where the lines are drawn (and they can still be moved between now and the final vote), when this is over, I’m not going to be representing neighbors and leaders that I have worked with my entire time on the council.”
Salim Adofo, chairman of the 8C advisory neighborhood commission, supports the map in terms of Ward 8’s new boundaries.
“This is a good thing for the ward and a good thing for the city,” Adofo said. “Our new neighbors will get the opportunity to see what it is like to be a Ward 8 resident and to be connected to an underserved community.”
Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, an advisory neighborhood commissioner representing district 6A07 in Ward 6, also likes the subcommittee’s map.
“The neighborhood I represent, Rosedale, is still in Ward 6 and I am happy about that,” she said. “There must be a viable Black community in Ward 6.”
Nevertheless, Phillips-Gilbert said she will monitor the council debate in December for any possible changes by the council.
“I want to make sure that Rosedale stays in Ward 6,” she said. “I have nothing against Ward 7 but we belong in Ward 6.”