ANC 6B Redistricting Resolution Passes During Contentious Meeting

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The final draft of the Redistricting Map, passed Nov. 19 in a vote by the DC Council Subcommittee on Redistricting. Image: DC Council Subcommittee on Redistricting

At the end of a rancorous four-hour meeting, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B narrowly passed a resolution asking DC Council to address issues in ANC 6B and the surrounding area in the final redistricting map.

The resolution, offered by Commissioners Corey Holman (6B06), Alison Horn (6B09) and Edward Ryder (6B07) points to the issues such as the small proposed size of Ward 7, just 114 voters above the legal minimum; the splitting of a neighborhood along Potomac Avenue SE; and the need for a single member district that represents only residents of the DC Jail.

More than 100 residents who came to express their frustration with the redistricting process heard from DC Council Chairperson Phil Mendelson that major change to the draft map is unlikely. After hearing from commissioners and residents on the issue for about two hours, Mendelson noted that the subcommittee has held public hearings and presented a recommendation. “I do not expect that between now and next Tuesday, that the Committee of the Whole is going to make radical changes to the map,” he told the meeting. “We literally waited 2.5 hours to be told that our voices would not be heard,” one resident wrote in the comments.

In addition to Mendelson, the meeting was attended by Councilmembers Charles Allen (Ward 6-D), Subcommittee on Redistricting Chair Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and subcommittee member Christina Henderson (I-At-Large). Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray (D) was at a meeting for Ward 7 and did not attend. He was represented by his Chief of Staff Sheila Bunn. Attendees tried to draw parallels between Gray’s absence at the meeting and the attention they expected to receive as part of Ward 7. “Does not bode well for how well he will represent constituents living west of Anacostia,” one attendee wrote in the comments.

The four-hour meeting was largely focused on larger issues of redistricting. Commissioners turned to the resolution around the two-hour mark. The discussion grew contentious, with accusations that commissioners were acting for their individual benefit; when one commissioner appeared to question another’s honesty, Vice-Chair Steve Holtzman (6B05) had to ask commissioners to watch their language. As the night wore on and commissioners grew fatigued, there was a struggle to maintain proper procedure.

While the resolution was focused on addressing issues of representation before the final map is approved, many residents attended in order to tell Councilmembers their feelings about the map which ranged from pleasure to be included in a slightly larger Ward 7 to ambivalence all the way to anger. Some residents wanted the ANC to advance a resolution that opposed the removal of portions of ANC 6B, which include all of 6B10, most of 6B09, portions of 6B06 and 6B07 and smaller parts of 6B04 and 6B08.

The language of the resolution was softened, with a statement supporting the relocation of Hill East removed. Some residents at the meeting said that the statement should represent the objection of those who do not want to be redistricted into Ward 7. Commissioner Corey Holman clarified the intent. “It’s not to say, please move me,” Holman said. “It’s to say: I am obviously moving, so how do I make this work for me?”

A major point of contention is the relocation of the boundary between Wards 6 and 7 from 19th to 15th Street, which Denise Krepp (6B10) said would unnecessarily separate the Hill East neighborhood from the rest of Capitol Hill.

Others objected to the division of neighborhoods from development at RFK Stadium and Reservation 13, pointing out decision-making has prioritized Ward 7 voices over the ANC 6B residents living nearby. Others proposed leaving Hill East in Ward 6, but Subcommittee on Redistricting Chair Elissa Silverman noted the tension between a request to expand the population of Ward 7 and the many Ward 6 representatives at the meeting asking that the boundary not be drawn at their neighborhood.

The redistricting map proposed by the Subcommittee on Redistricting will have its first vote in front of DC Council Dec. 7 and a second vote Dec. 21.