The new ward boundaries were unanimously approved on a second vote by DC Council with one last-minute change. Ward 7 Coucnilmember Vincent Gray (D), who has been ill, did not attend either session.
An amendment put forward a second time by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan Mc Duffie was passed 7-5 on the second vote after extensive and sometimes heated advocacy by Ward 5 residents. Ward 2 Councilmember Brook Pinto voted for the amendment Dec. 21 after voting against Dec. 7. The redistricting map allocated the area around the Armed Forces Retirement Home and Children’s Washington Hospital to Ward 1; the amendment restores it back to Ward 5.
“A vote for this amendment is a vote to maintain the current boundaries and not in favor of any particular council member or one ward over the other,” MCDuffie said, citing the continuity and consensus from Ward 5 residents.
In asking Council to reject the amendment, Ward 1 Councilmember Branne Nadeau argued that Ward 1 residents were in fact the community of interest relative to those properties. She said the areas under consideration are part of a community of interest with neighborhoods such as Parkview.
The advocacy of Ward 5 residents resulted in successful changes. Appeals from residents of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A that portions of Rosedale not be reallocated to Ward 7, were not discussed by the committee and were not the subject of amendments.
An amendment submitted by Trayon White, Sr. to put the 11th Street Bridge entirely in Ward 8 failed 1-111. In presenting the amendment, White citing the work of Ward 8 residents on the 11th Street Bridge Project and the Douglass Land Trust. The halfway point of the river, roughly the center of the bridge, was the border between Wards 6 and 8 in the map approved at the first vote. Both Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) and Chairman Phil Mendelson noted that when bridges, roadways and parks are on the border of wards, ward borders are generally drawn down the middle. The boundary between Wards 6 and 8 follows 11th Street along the middle down to and including the bridge until the mid-point of the river, when it goes northeast along the middle of the river.
An amendment put forward by Mendelson on behalf of the Committee of the Whole (COW) at first vote Dec. 7 had already made significant changes to the map submitted by the Redistricting Subcommittee. These included the reunion of the Kingman Park and Rosedale neighborhoods in Ward 7, and placing the the area east of 11th Street, south of Potomac Avenue, and south of the DC Jail complex in Ward 6 rather than Ward 7. Potomac Avenue SE is now the boundary between Wards 6 and 7.
Redistricting Subcommittee Chair Elissa Silverman (At-Large, D) Silverman also noted that the rhetoric around redistricting, especially in the case of the Old Soldier’s Home, had become heated and even anti-Semitic. Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George added that the tone of the correspondence was disrespectful and said that a conversation is needed moving forward about how advocacy sometimes devolves into personal attacks.
Silverman enumerated lessons from the redistricting process, saying she hoped more in-person meetings would be possible in 2031 but also that the redistricting committee would have its own staff and budget to facilitate data collection and outreach.
The subcommittee chair said that discussion of how to draw equitable maps brought home structural inequities that have not changed, in many cases, since Home Rule.
“I hope we will learn from these last ten years that public investments drive development, and if we do not intervene it will drive gentrification as well,” Silverman said.
The redistricting bill now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) for signature.