At the Feb. 16 meeting of the Ward 8 Redistricting Task Force, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Sr. (D) indicated that he was open to discussing a Navy Yard Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) incorporating parts of Ward 8 and Ward 6, represented by Councilmember Charles Allen (D).
The combined ANC is one of the possibilities the task force is considering as they debate recommendations they will make to DC Council for redistricting of ANCs. The proposal would combine a ‘notch’ portion of Ward 6 that covers the Navy Yard neighborhood with a newly-added portion of Ward 8. Until now, Ward 8 has been located entirely east of the Anacostia river.
During Wednesday’s meeting, task force Chairman Brian Thompson said that the ANC would have to consider the role of issues related to construction and permitting, noting that there were shared interests in the area as well as experience with the processes.
“I just wanted to remind everyone that we were having that discussion and why we were having that discussion, particularly the amount of development in Ward 8 west of the river,” Thompson said.
Councilmember White spoke about the changes and the importance of residents in the area having their voices heard throughout this process. He said while he hasn’t spoken directly with Councilmember Allen yet, “I believe he is amenable to it.”
“It was originally really awkward for me the way that it was drawn out,” White said, referring to the ‘notch’ map. “But it makes sense of the residents who live there to be included in the conversation, and this is not the first time wards have shared an ANC.”
Former Director of the Office of ANCs Gottleib Simon is a Ward 6 task force member. He attended the meeting, emphasizing the support for a joint ANC amongst members of the Ward 6 task force.
Simon said that “the notch” in Navy Yard that is currently part of Ward 6 includes 4,000 people, enough for two Single Member Districts (SMDs). The current draft map created for ANC 6D, includes that area, giving in 10 SMDs, which Simon said is larger than optimal. The Ward 6 task force is interested in keeping commissions manageable sizes, he said.
“My conversations with them indicate that they would be really happy to stay at seven or eight (SMDs) and wouldn’t really be interested in having that large an ANC,” Simon said.
Council Member Elissa Silverman (i-At-Large) attended the meeting, emphasizing the importance of listening the voices of black residents in Ward 8 as this change is discussed.
“We want to make sure, again, through both federal law and our local law, that we have redrawn political boundaries that don’t dilute the vote in the voice of minority residents,” Silverman said. “I think something to consider really is how you’re going to draw and seize for the new part of Ward 8 that is geographically apart and separated by the river has a different demographic (and) more white residents.”
The task force members aim to create single member districts (SMDs) with 1,900-2,100 residents and limit the scope of change to current Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and SMD boundaries where possible. The members also work to balance the workloads and resources of the ANCs, avoid splitting census blocks, recognize neighborhood cohesiveness and population balancing and utilize natural features such as parks when drawing boundaries.
In addition to comments from Council Members Elissa Silverman and White, Wednesday’s meeting included a community engagement session, where task force members from each Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) were involved, including from ANCs 8A, 8B, 8C, 8D, 8E and the proposed new additions 6B and 6D.
How You Can Get Involved
Chairman Thompson spoke about the goals of the next redistricting meeting.
“The goal is to have a few maps to look at and to discuss the merits, drawbacks, etcetera,” Thompson said. “Coming out of that meeting we would like to have a vote on two or three maps that we can send to the Office of Planning to validate to verify.”
The task force will convene again on Wednesday March 2, 2022 at 6:00 p.m for public testimony and map comments. You can email comments about the proposed redistricting plan and maps to email@example.com.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for the Hill Rag. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.