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DC Council Takes First Vote on Ward Redistricting

  • December 8th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

The DC Council took its first step toward codifying new ward boundaries in the city on Tuesday, voting in favor of an amended version of a redistricting bill meant to restore population balance among DC's political districts.

The Committee of the Whole (COW) made four amendments to the ward boundaries prior to Tuesday's vote. The first two amendments would return a few blocks off 6th Street NW in Shaw to Ward 2 rather than moving them to Ward 1 and make New Jersey Avenue NW a uniform boundary between Wards 2 and 5. More major adjustments were made around the boundaries between Wards 6 and 7, the subject of increasing debate over the past few weeks.

Rather than the Kingman Park and Rosedale neighborhoods being united as part of Ward 6, those areas will instead be designated as Ward 7. Conversely, the area south of Potomac Avenue that was redistricted to Ward 7 would remain in Ward 6. These changes address some concerns raised by Ward 7 leaders and would make Ward 7 the fourth-largest ward instead of the smallest.

Amended Ward boundaries overlaid atop subcommittee map. Click to enlarge.

Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie offered an amendment during the COW meeting to return the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) site to Ward 5 rather than moving it to Ward 1, calling the prospective move "unneccessary and disruptive".

"The legislation proposes changes to Ward 5 that are contrary to the legal mandate behind redistricting, contrary to the subcommittee's own guiding principles, and not supported by the community," Councilmember McDuffie stated, noting that the populations of Wards 1 and 5 did not legally need to change.

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau fought for the move, stating that "the Armed Forces Retirement Home is geographically cut off from Ward 5" by North Capitol Street and the Washington Hospital Center. Councilmember Nadeau also asserted that residents of Wards 1 and 4 are more involved in activities supporting the AFRH and that Park View's ANC 1A has funded grants supporting those activities. Both councilmembers also debated which proximal neighborhoods would be more impacted by future development on the site. The amendment failed on a 6-6 vote; Councilmember McDuffie was the lone vote against the full bill.

Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray, whose ward saw some of the greatest changes since the subcommittee map was released, was absent from today's proceedings as he recovers from health issues. The DC Council is expected to make a final vote on the redistricting bill on December 21st. 

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-takes-first-vote-on-ward-redistricting/19030.

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