The Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force convened for the final time via Zoom to discuss plans, changes and edits for the final report which will be submitted to the DC Council for review on April 1. Task force members reviewed previous adjustments and discussed several new changes to the map before voting to advance the final amended map and report unanimously.
This meeting comes after several rounds of task force meetings and public comment sessions.
The taskforce was charged by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) with drawing the boundaries of the ward’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and their component Single Member Districts (SMDs).
SMDs must contain between 1,900-2,100 residents by DC statute. In drawing the new map, taskforce members also must avoid splitting census blocks, maintain neighborhood cohesiveness and balance the ward’s population among the ANCs to avoid overburdening any single one.
A Visit from Councilmember Allen
Allen attended the meeting and thanked the task force for their hard work throughout this process. He also explained the next steps in the process where the DC Council will evaluate the maps for each ward.
“I want each of you to know how much I appreciate the hard work that you have put in here,” Allen said, addressing the members of the task force. “Your ANC Commissioners and your neighbors across ward 6 appreciate it, and it’s largely thankless work, but it’s really important.”
Adjustments to SMDs in Buzzard Point
There were adjustments made to the SMDs on Buzzard Point. SMDs 6D07 and 6D08 were revised twice. In the end, the tip of Buzzard Point was added into 6D07 and 6D08 was lengthened down the eastern side.
Prior to the first of two motions, members discussed the environmental issues and the idea of equally sharing the load among ANC commissioners as rationale to move parts of 6D07 to 6D08 in ANC 6D. Task force members debated these concerns alongside the redistricting principle of ensuring that redrawn maps do not dilute minority voting power.
Task force member Georgine Wallace discussed her concerns about the lines are being drawn and the potential resulting dilution of minority voting power if these changes were made. Task force member Christine Spencer echoed Wallace’s concerns.
Task force member Gottleib Simon questioned whether the task force had enough information to claim that this move would dilute minority voting power. Chair Ivan Frishberg explained that, once complete, the new developments in Buzzard Point are likely to accelerate such dilution.
“The folks who are going to be moving into Buzzard Point are going to be white and affluent,” Frishberg said. “I take that as an absolute given, given the nature of the development that’s going on there. If you add that to 6D08 as it is here, which is a more minority district, then you dilute the minority vote there.”
In resolution, task force member Matthew Oberstaedt proposed an amendment to the redistricting of 6D08 to help ensure that minority voting power is not diluted. Ten task force members voted in favor of the amendment, with Gottleib Simon opposed and one abstained.
Simon pushed back on the changes, saying they were based on information that should not be considered by the task force. “Those kinds of speculations are not part of the rule of the game,” he said.
Simon proposed a separate amendment that reversed the motion, returning the triangular portion south of the Potomac and west of the bridge that had just been removed back to 6D08 but putting the smile-shape at the bottom point back into 6D07. The shapes were separated with a boundary where V Street SW runs into the river
Simon argued that the triangle has no significant population but will distribute the ANC workload more evenly, allowing more than one commissioner to represent issues on the peninsula. He said this also gives the people living in the portion of 6D08 north of Potomac Avenue a voice on transportation issues effecting them that emanate from decisions made further south on the peninsula. Seven members approved this amendment, four opposed and one abstained.
Another amendment was made in 6D regarding a block-splitting proposal. 6D06 has a population of 2,191 making it significantly larger than the other SMDs within the ANC. The two changes made, unanimously supported by the task force, were to abandon the block split that moves part of 6D06 into 6D01 and to restore the triangle portion, previously assigned to 6D01 back to 6D06.
Another motion, brought to the task force by Amber Gove, an ANC Commissioner for ANC 6A04, to switch the names of 6A04 and 6A06 for legacy and continuity was passed unanimously by the task force. Gove also proposed a change to the 6A05 and 6A06 boundaries as well. The task force voted unanimously to accept this amendment to the map.
There were a few block splitting changes made to 6E02, 6E08 and 6E09, reflected in the report. The task force said the reason for these changes was to equalize the SMD populations within ANC 6E as most remain below what is seen across the rest of the ward.
The Final Map
Finally, the task force voted to approve the map and report, as amended, to send to the DC Council for further review. This was passed unanimously by the task force. The task force also approved all of the block splits discussed and amended in the meeting. This was also passed unanimously.
You can watch the March 30 meeting and read more about the next steps in the redistricting process here.
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.