Before month’s end, the U.S. Census data should be is the hands of D.C. officials and available for city residents to begin registering public comments about proposed boundaries for the city’s eights wards.
Some discussions will be continuous, as well they should be, while all are worthy of debate for one reason or another.
For example, the total population in each ward is by design supposed to be comparable to that of the other seven wards.
Political affiliation and race/ethnicity are not supposed to be considered inside or outside boundary lines. But Ward 8, which lies east of the Anacostia River, has a largely Black population, is the city’s poorest ward and often is defined by generational crime, underperforming schools and joblessness.
One of its socio-economic opposites is Ward 6, home to Capitol Hill, downtown businesses and sports facilities, and foodie hot sports that also thrive with popular watering holes.
And then there’s Ward 4, longtime home for Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has said “we are having a racial reckoning in our country.”
One thing Miss Bowser and the D.C. Council won’t have to contend with come 2022, when the redistricting laws are finalized, is whether Democrats or Republicans will continuing ruling City Hall. There is no Grand Old Party in City Hall, just mild-mannered Republicans who live in the District. So don’t expect a typical legal skirmish over gerrymandering.
The national Democratic Party leaders can depend on D.C. leaders to follow suit in 2022 and in 2024, when it comes to the elections. So during redistricting discussions, be on the lookout for progressive lawmakers like council Chairman Phil Mendelson to take on Miss Bowser.
And perhaps Ward 6 lawmaker Charles Allen, Ward 5’s Kenyan Martin and Ward 7’s Vincent Gray should stand shoulder-to-shoulder if they feel threatened by border changes to their wards. All three would be the first to declare, “if they ain’t broke, don’t change them.”