Redistricting is a difficult job and this year has been no exception. I want to acknowledge the efforts of my fellow subcommittee members, Councilmembers Michael Brown and Phil Mendelson, as well as the other members of the Council who participated in the process. Most of all, I want to thank the residents who reached out to us by phone and email, as well as by testifying at our three public hearings and speaking at the many community meetings we attended.
The 2011 Census reported the District’s overall population to be 601,723 people. When divided equally among the eight Wards, this results in an average population of 75,215 residents per Ward. Federal law allows a deviation in Ward population of plus or minus 5 percent, which gave us a range of 71,455 – 78,976 residents within which to work. The District’s population increased by 29,664, or 5.2 percent, between 2000 and 2010. It is worth noting that this increase nearly returns the District to its 1990 census population of 606,900 people.
The 2010 Census showed that compared to 2000, Wards 1 through 7 gained population, while Ward 8 lost 215 residents, or 0.3 percent of its population. After the 2010 Census, we learned that Ward 2 exceeded the allowable population range by 939 people, while Ward 7 was below the allowable minimum by 386 residents and Ward 8 was below by 742. All the other Wards remained within the required population range.
The Subcommittee on Redistricting released an initial draft redistricting plan last week and followed that with an additional subcommittee hearing, our third since the process began, which lasted until after 1:00am. In response to this hearing, we were able to issue a revised plan that accommodated a number of the concerns raised. Most notably for Ward 2, we were able to reunite the Penn Quarter neighborhood while also further reuniting the Shaw neighborhood in Ward 6 and restoring the “chimney” toward the northeast corner of Shaw that had been slated to return to Ward 5, which was originally an attempt to reunite a census tract.
The most significant change in the revised plan was to keep many residents of the eastern part of Capitol Hill in Ward 6, pursuant their wishes. The full Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of the revised plan at first reading, with a 12-1 vote, which speaks to the fact that we did the best we could on the subcommittee in balancing competing interests as we redrew the Ward boundaries. A final vote on the Ward redistricting will take place on June 21.
The final step in redistricting is to review the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and Single Member District (SMD) boundary lines, which we will begin after the second vote on the redistricting plan. Please contact my office if you would like to be involved in the Ward 2 task force or wish to weigh in on any potential changes – I welcome your input.