A number of residents traveled to the Anacostia Public Library in Southeast D.C. on Sept. 16 to cast their ballots, and for the third straight time, Ward 8 Democrats Chairman Troy Donte Prestwood was reelected to his post with little opposition.
“I am really honored, once again, to serve as the chairman of this organization,” Prestwood said. “My hope is to draw on the talents of the people in Ward 8 and to prepare for the primary next year.”
Those also reelected to their positions were Sheila Bunn as first vice chair, Stuart Anderson as second vice chair and Daryl Ross as the treasurer. The recording secretary and corresponding secretary positions are vacant.
Prestwood remains in his position as many changes and topics are affecting his constituents: Ward 8 expanded to the Navy Yard neighborhood, west of the Anacostia River, during the redistricting process in 2021, and a spirited contest for the ward’s D.C. Council seat comes into fruition. D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) has publicly declared that he will run for reelection but has yet to file with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance. The D.C. Democratic primary will take place on June 4, 2024.
Ward 8 Democrats’ Impact
The Ward 8 Democrats are considered by local political observers to be a force in District party politics. Seventy-eight percent of the ward’s registered voters are Democrats, comparable to its neighbor, Ward 7, to the north with 80%, according to statistics compiled by the D.C. Board of Elections for August 2023. Overall, 76.48% of all District residents are registered Democrats.
In past mayoral elections, the actions of the Ward 8 Democrats have shaped who will run the city. In 2010, then-D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray received such an impressive number of votes in the organization’s straw poll against Mayor Adrian Fenty that it gave Gray the momentum to win the party nomination in September of that year. However, in 2014, Ward 4 Council member Muriel Bowser defeated Gray in a January Ward 8 Democrats straw poll that added steam to her campaign to topple him in the April 1 primary.
Former D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairwoman Wanda Lockridge is a fixture in the Ward 8 Democrats and serves as a ward committeewoman. Also, D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson has been a former chair of the organization.
The Ward 8 Democrats set up near the entrance of the library in the plaza. There were tables for residents to get their ballot, turn in their ballot and pick up a snack if they wished to. There were four rows of chairs facing the snack table for residents who wished to participate in the proceedings of the convention.
Mike J.E. Grier, the chairman of the organization’s Issues & Legislation Committee, presided over the segment dealing with changes in the bylaws. For nearly two hours, members and Grier grappled with such changes as grammatical words and phrases, defining who may vote and hold office in the Ward 8 Democrats based on residency, and making adjustments throughout the document on gender references.
Though the debate was spirited at times, Grier, 34, said he thought the process was fruitful.
“Any organization that doesn’t look at its bylaws periodically is dead, I think,” Grier said. “I liked the participation and the input from people.”
D.C. Shadow Representative Oye Owolewa, a Ward 8 resident, came by to cast his vote.
“It means a lot to me to come here and vote for our party leaders,” Owolewa, 33, said. “It shows commitment to our community.”
Prestwood said his goals during his next two-year term is to continue to register and turn out voters and partner with Divine 9 Black-Greek organizations and female Democratic clubs to accomplish that. Plus, he said he will stress the importance of voting in the primary and in the general election.
“We need to reelect Joe Biden,” he said.