Council Subcommittee Holds Second Redistricting Hearing Thursday

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Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) gives remarks at the April 7 public hearing before the DC Council Subcommittee on Redistricting. Screenshot: Facebook/CMElissaSilverman

The DC Council is now in the process of taking public comment on redistricting. The process continues Thursday April 28 with a second public hearing on the reports from each task force.

The first public hearing on April 7 covered all 8 wards of the District and lasted more than 10 hours.

Every 10 years, the District makes adjustments to the boundaries of election wards using census data. The redistricting process began with a dedicated task force in each ward who met, discussed and edited map proposals and reports.

Thursday’s hearing is the second held by the subcommittee after reports were submitted by the redistricting task force from each ward April 1.

Redistricting Guidelines

Redistricting guidelines state that Single Member Districts (SMDs) must be home to between 1,900-2,100 residents by DC statute. Task force members worked to stay within that range and to limit the scope of change to current Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and SMD boundaries where possible. The members also worked 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.

First Public Hearing

Public testimony at the first hearing focused on areas of debate throughout the redistricting process. In Ward 6, adjustments to the SMD sizes in both ANC 6D and 6E were discussed in addition to issues pertaining to the dilution of minority voting power and a lack of balance.

In Ward 7, a lengthy discussion centered around the heavily debated issue of the cross-river ANCs proposed by the task force. Members of the community have spoken out in opposition to the cross-river commissions arguing that the newly created ANCs are non-contiguous and not compact. Other community members say that the map creates unity across the river.

In Ward 8, discussion centered around the ‘notch’ portion of Ward 6 slated to move into a joint Ward 6-Ward 8 ANC. There was also discussion about the balance of SMDs in the cross-river ANCs as well as about the way Bellevue and Bolling Air Force Base were redistricted into ANCs.

Next Steps

The meeting of the redistricting subcommittee will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday April 28. Councilmembers will once again take public comment on the maps and final reports submitted by each task force. You can watch the public hearing here.

The final ANC and SMD boundaries will be debated and voted on by the DC Council. The council plans to have an initial reading of the bill by May 24, and a final reading and vote no later than June 7. These boundaries will be used for the November 8 general election in the fall.

Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com.