The D.C. Council has in the works major changes to the city’s ward system through the redistricting process.
On Dec. 7, the council voted 11-1 to support a ward redistricting plan supported by Chairman Phil Mendelson that slightly tweaked the blueprint a subcommittee submitted last month.
The new redistricting plan left the subcommittee’s proposal largely intact except for major changes in Ward 6, 7 and 8. The revised plan puts predominantly Black Ward 6 neighborhoods Kingman Park and Rosedale in Ward 7 and adds the Navy Yard area of Ward 6 into Ward 8. Mendelson said he has listened to residents throughout the process and feels the revised plan serves the city’s overall best interest.
“I have heard arguments that taking Kingman Park and Rosedale out of Ward 6 will make Ward 6 a white ward,” Mendelson said, at a Dec. 6 news conference. “I don’t think that is the case. I find that there is only a one percent reduction in the Black population of Ward 6 if those two neighborhoods go to Ward 7.”
The council scheduled a final vote on the revised plan on Dec. 21.
Wendell Felder, the chairman of the Ward 7 Democrats, co-led a coalition of ward leaders denouncing the subcommittee plan which would have Ward 7 as having the smallest population in the city.
The revised plan has Ward 7 as the fourth largest ward in the city. D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) endorsed the revised proposal calling it “fair” and “equitable.”
“The boundaries . . . circulated by Mendelson signal that the council has heard the outcries from leaders across Ward 7 and responded appropriately,” Gray said. “Kingman Park is a neighborhood that has been an active and established community in Ward 7 for 20 years. I want to thank Chair Mendelson for working with me to include all of Kingman Park in Ward 7 and neighboring Rosedale and, as well, keep the Fields at RFK and Kingman Island in Ward 7.”
Gray didn’t vote for the Mendelson plan or participate in the Committee of the Whole meeting because of illness.
On Dec. 17, the Ward 7 Democrats sent out a message on its communication networks complimenting the revised proposal but urged the council to consider extending the ward’s boundaries further west in the Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. area and past 16th Street., S.E.
Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, who represents Rosedale, has adamantly made it clear she wants her neighborhood to stay in Ward 6 and not go into Ward 7.
D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) voted against the plan because it took the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the Washington Hospital Center away from his ward and moved them to Ward 1.
The revised plan has a few blocks in Ward 6 move to Ward 2 in the Shaw neighborhood. Wards 3 and 4 remain unchanged.