Ward 7 Task Force Approves Redistricting Map – CM Silverman Makes Surprise Visit
by Larry Janezich
Posted March 29, 2022
The Ward 7 Redistricting Task Force approved a final map of new ANC and Single Member District boundaries for Ward 7 last night, with only minor changes in the discussion map it considered in recent meetings. The only change for Hill East was the carving out of a separate Single Member District for the DC Jail in an amendment offered by Task Force member Max Richman. The final vote on the map as amended was 14 ayes – 3 nays. Two members were absent. The amendment increased the number of SMDs west of the river from two to three.
Afterward, some Task Force members expressed concern that the City Council’s Redistricting Subcommittee might make changes in the map before forwarding it to the Council. That fear was prompted by the surprise appearance at last night’s virtual meeting of the Task Force by the City Council’s Subcommittee chair CM Elissa Sllverman. Silverman had scheduled the appearance with Task Force Co-chair Tamara Blair, earlier in the day.
At the beginning of the meeting, Silverman said that the Subcommittee was expecting a report by the end of the week including a map that met the principles of redistricting and the statutory requirements. The law requires ANC populations to be 2000 plus or minus 5%, with some discretion outside of those limits if rationalized.
She said she wanted to refresh everybody’s memory on the principles of redistricting: first and foremost, equal representation and no dilution of minority voting.
Then, she said, what she would be looking for in the map drawings:
- Are your boundaries compact and contiguous?
- Are they geographically sensible?
- Are communities of interest kept together?
Task Force member Dr. Marla Dean asked if Ward 7 was the only Task Force visited by Silverman. Silverman said no, that she had joined other task forces, including those in Wards 3, 4, 8, and would join the Ward 2 meeting tonight.
The Task Force went on to consider and adopt 5 amendments adjusting ANC and Single Member District boundaries. Three Hill East or near Hill East Task Force members voted against the proposal for a separate SMD for DC Jail and against the final passage of the map as amended, apparently in protest against the configuration of the cross river ANCs and/or the lack of a standalone ANC west of the river.
Afterward, near the end of the meeting, Dr. Marla Dean said that for her the process ended on a negative note and she was disheartened. She felt the councilmember’s comments at the beginning of the meeting and her presence “were not neutral.” Dean said she was concerned about what would happen at the next level – that the Task Force’s efforts would be undermined.
Task Force member and discussion map sponsor Keith Hasan-Towery joined Dean in expressing concern, stating that he felt Silverman’s comments reflected a feeling that a disservice had been done to some communities. He said he was losing confidence in the process that looked like it was being undermined.
The concerns seemed related to the controversy involved in the cross river ANC boundaries and Silverman’s emphasis on the redistricting principle that ANCs have compact and contiguous boundaries. A look at the map shows at least one Ward 7 ANC which does not appear to meet those criteria, despite the assertion of some supporters of the final map that it does. The proposed ANC7F sprawls awkwardly across the river with a narrow bridge connecting three single member districts west of the river with five single member districts east of the river in a three lobed configuration
The Task Force will meet again on Thursday at 5:00pm, to vote on the report which will accompany the map when it is submitted on Friday.