Every 10 years our nation redraws political boundaries based on the latest U.S. Census results. Here in the District of Columbia, redistricting is well underway—and the stakes are high. My position on redistricting is firm: Ward 6 boundaries should remain intact, with the exception of bringing Kingman Park back into our ward.
Based on the census data, Wards 7 and 8 have lost population and need to add residents by expanding their boundaries, while Ward 2 has gained population and therefore must reduce the area it covers. Because Wards 5 and 6—as well as a small portion of Ward 2 next to Hains Point—share boundaries with the Wards that need to expand, they are the focus of efforts to add residents to Wards 7 and 8.
Councilmembers Michael A. Brown, Jack Evans and Phil Mendelson lead the committee charged with producing a redistricting plan. They are close to completion and it appears to me they will recommend a substantial change to Ward 6.
At nearly a dozen community meetings on these potential changes, I’ve listened to Ward 6 residents express fervent opposition to altering our boundaries. I’ve been impressed by the way neighbors are rallying around our ward’s sense of community and participation in our civic life. Their concerns aren’t about parking permits; they’re interested in keeping together the fabric of our neighborhoods.
At one meeting last week, I was told a likely proposed Ward 6 boundary may be 17th Street—both northeast and southeast. Lopping of the entire eastern edge of Ward 6 would do great harm to the neighborhood and the way in which residents work with their ANCs, civic associations and the larger ward community.
A prime example would be placing Eastern High School and Eliot-Hine Middle School in Ward 7. While that would not change the school boundaries for students, it would undermine the years of planning that our community has invested in developing successful Ward 6 elementary schools and a new Ward 6 middle school plan. Ward 6 families have worked together to develop programming and a curriculum that will challenge the next generation of students attending Eastern High School—“The Pride of Capitol Hill.” By moving Eastern and Eliot-Hine to Ward 7, our community and ward leaders will have dramatically diminished influence over the future of these schools.
Another example would be carving out a small portion of Hill East and isolating it within a larger ANC that shares no connection with the neighborhood—much the way Kingman Park has been isolated within its Ward 7 ANC. ANCs review our alcohol and licensure applications and zoning changes, and they play a critical role in community-based development and negotiations. Isolating a single-member ANC district inhibits its Commissioner’s ability to create working partnerships and a shared vision within the larger ANC based on common neighborhood priorities.
Be assured that if the redistricting committee recommends changes that harm the deep-rooted communities that Ward 6 has worked so hard to sustain, I will do everything in my power to fight back. And I know I can count on our committed residents and leaders to stand with me in support of our neighbors.