Today the DC Council’s Subcommittee on Redistricting releases their much-anticipated proposal for new boundaries for the eight existing city wards. Yesterday, community members from around Ward 6 (as we know it) came together for a Rally to Keep Capitol Hill Together.
Approximately two hundred residents turned out for the event, as well as a number of reporters, the Fox 5 camera crew, several ANC commissioners and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells.
Although on the basis of Census data Ward 6 has an acceptable number of residents, portions may be nonetheless be reassigned to Ward 7, which has to take on more people. Currently, the natural boundary of the Anacostia River separates the two wards, except for Kingman Park in Ward 7 on the west side of the river.
Kingman Park residents have been clamoring to rejoin Ward 6, but the redistricting committee is expected to instead draw a new dividing line, somewhat arbitrarily, at 17th Street (SE and NE).
The posters and chants that rally-goers brought with them to the front lawn of Eastern Senior High School this evening reflected a variety of arguments against the change. Parents fear that having Eastern High School, which is east of 17th Street, in Ward 7 would complicate efforts to create a cluster of good public schools in the neighborhood.
The rally, however, is just the latest in a series of actions that the Ward 6 community has undertaken in protest of the potential redistricting.
Petitions for Capitol Hill unity have been circulating the neighborhood for well over a month. The community has played host to a number of open forums devoted to the issue of redistricting. ANC Commissioners such as Brian Flahaven (6B09) have dedicated significant resources to educating and mobilizing area residents.
One rally participant showed her support with an extra-large poster prominently advertising Councilmember contact information. And, in fact, locals have flooded the subcommittee members, Councilmembers Michael Brown, Jack Evans and Phil Mendelson, with emails and phone calls.
Next up is the subcommittee’s presentation and vote on the proposed plan, due to take place this coming Thursday, May 26.
If yesterday’s event is any indication, the Capitol Hill community will prove to be an active and persistent participant in the final stages of the redistricting process.
Cross-posted at The Barney Circular.