Council Votes Up Redistricting Act of 2021
by Villareal “VJ” Johnson, HCCA, Acting President
With the unanimous passing of Bill 24-0371 on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021, Ward 7 becomes the fourth most populous Ward in the District of Columbia, with 85,680 residents.
Every ten years, the Census Bureau counts the American population. The last Census was in 2011. During that Census, Ward 7 lost the Fairlawn and Marlboro Plaza communities and Precinct 132 and was the least populated ward. According to the 2020 Census data, Ward 7 had 76,255 residents, and it only grew by 4,500 residents in 10 years. In context, the District of Columbia had a population boom over the same period. The District of Columbia data reports the DC population at 701,000 residents. However, Federal Census data reports the DC population at 688,000 residents. According to Federal Census data, it’s important to note that Ward 6 had 108,000 residents, an increase of roughly 30,000 residents since 2011.
The Federal Census is a decennial process that legislates the redrawing of political boundaries. This process has two primary purposes, 1) redistribute resources and 2) redistribute people. The benefit of redistributing people is that it allows communities to have equal representation in the electoral process.
The DC Council Redistricting Subcommittee, led by Independent At-Large Councilmember Elisa Silverman, submitted a recommendation where Ward 7 would have approximately 81,555 residents, keeping Ward 7 the least populous ward. Christina Henderson, Independent, At-Large Councilmember and Anita Bonds, Democrat, At-Large Councilmember were also part of the Subcommittee. Both Elisa Silverman and Anita Bonds are up for reelection in June 2022.
Through the advocacy efforts of a coalition of Ward 7 elected leaders, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and community organizations, Councilmember Gray was able to utilize the support of this Coalition to push back for more under the principles of Equity, Inclusion, and Transparency. Councilmember Gray, who was unable to vote for this modification, due to a mild stroke, was able to rely on his staff and strong relationship with Chairman Phil Mendelson. The Committee of the Whole map, introduced by Chairman Mendelson on behalf of Councilmember Gray and the Ward 7 Coalition, gave Ward 7 the population of 85,680 residents, an increase of roughly 9,400 residents, making Ward 7 the 4th most populous ward in the District of Columbia. Ward 7 gains this population by going west into Ward 6, inside of Benning Road to 15th street, to Potomac Avenue and around the Congressional Cemetery into the Anacostia River. Ward 7 retains Reservation 13, RFK Stadium, the Fields, and Kingman Park. Ward 7 gains Rosedale, Eastern parts of Hill East, and Barney Circle. No community represented by HCCA or South of Massachusetts Avenue was impacted. Hillcrest members Earl Williams, Julie Rones, and Villareal “VJ” Johnson were actively involved in the process.
Ward 7’s natural growth of 4,500 and the addition of the 9,400 residents, gained through redistricting, allows Ward 7 to see population growth of roughly 13,900 people. The majority of them are age-eligible voters. This means that Ward 7 will have the voting power to make a difference in its quality of life for the next ten years. This also means that Ward 7 will possibly have an additional Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) west of the river. ANCs are hyper-local forms of advisory bodies that work to communicate the thoughts and wishes of residents. Currently, Ward 7 has 5 ANCs, each with 7 Single Member Districts (SMDs). There is a strong possibility that Ward 7 will have an ANC 7A west of the river with 7 SMDs.
Additional information can be found here.