District leaders have turned their attention to redrawing advisory neighborhood commission and single-member district borders after completing the city’s eight ward lines in December.
“Many people believe that redistricting is over now that the new ward boundaries are in place,” said D.C. Council member Christina Henderson (I-At Large), a member of the redistricting subcommittee. “We still have to draw advisory neighborhood boundaries and that is a little bit different from the wards.”
The District redraws advisory neighborhood commission [ANC] lines every 10 years based on the latest official U.S. Census data. Presently, there are 40 commissions with 296 single-member districts represented by a commissioner. The number of commissions and single-members districts could change based on the new ward boundaries approved by the D.C. Council and signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in December.
Rubrics of the ANC Process
Henderson said each ward council member selects a ward task force to create the borders for the ANCs. The task force will consist of residents that could include present commissioners.
Henderson and her three other at-large colleagues, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), Robert White (D-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large), can also select residents to serve on ward task forces.
Henderson said the ward task force members are expected to meet for a number of weeks to draw the new boundaries. The task force will determine the type of public input, including meetings and hearings, that will aid it in drawing boundaries. Sometime in the spring, Henderson said, the task force will vote on new ANC boundaries and then send that information to Henderson’s subcommittee.
The subcommittee will consider all eight of the ANC boundaries plans and has the power to make adjustments. After subcommittee consideration, the ANC plans go to the D.C. Council. The matters pertaining to the plans will be discussed and perhaps adjusted in the council and will be subject to two votes. After the votes, the ANC boundary plans go to Bowser as a package for her signature. The congressional review period begins after the mayor’s approval and if no objections occur, the ANC boundaries become set for the next 10 years.
“It is critical that the ward task force starts their work as soon as possible,” Henderson said. “We in the Council should vote on the new ANC lines by June, so that ANC candidates can plan their campaigns and pick up their petitions for the November general election.”
During the ward redistricting process, Ward 8 added the Navy Yard neighborhood located west of the Anacostia River. Brian K. Thompson, who represents 8A03 single-member district that encompasses the Fairlawn neighborhood, has agreed to serve as the interim chair of the ward’s task force after being approached by D.C. Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8).
“I was very engaged in the ward redistricting process,” Thompson said. “I want to shape the last developmental frontier of D.C., which is Ward 8. I have an interesting vantage point because I represent Fairlawn, an area that borders Ward 8 and Ward 7 and I see a lot of shifting around me.”
Thompson said he hasn’t committed to becoming the chairman and said it will be up to the task force members, which number over 20, what office, if any, he serves. He said the task force had a preliminary gathering on Dec. 20 and will have organizational meetings throughout January.
Former Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor has knowledge of the ANC redrawing of the lines process. Former D.C. Council member Marion S. Barry Jr. appointed Batchelor, then a commissioner, to his ward task force about 10 years ago.
“It was a very interesting process for me,” Batchelor said. “My task force colleagues consisted of incumbent commissioners and community members. I am not on the task force this time.”
Batchelor said the addition of Navy Yard residents in the ANC redistricting process will make it complicated.
“The new task force will have to look at other natural boundaries and neighborhoods,” he said. “When I was on the task force it was a tough process. There was a lot of wrangling going on among members about who should represent what street and neighborhood. I don’t expect this process to be any different.”