Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Redistricting is a Contact Sport

ART OF WAR Concept: EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
"Redistricting is a contact sport." That’s what they said when I signed up to participate in this process and that is exactly what I got. To quickly recap, every ten years the U.S. Census conducts a count of all residents in the country. The count in DC concluded that the Districts population has grown, but that Ward 8’s population decreased in size. The City Council members bargained on how to redistrict the Wards.  Ward 8 added some parts of Ward 7 that included the area near the Anacostia Library and the Marbury Plaza.
After new Ward boundaries were established, it was time for Ward residents to get involved and redraw the Single Member District (SMD) boundaries as part of the Ward Redistricting Taskforce. This was a very important step in the process because each SMD is represented by an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) and these boundaries will stay the same for the next 10 years. In order to do well in this process, it was important that Taskforce Members knew their neighborhoods well, due in part, because certain neighborhoods have boundaries such as Bellvue, Congress Heights and Historic Anacostia. As you can imagine there were some enthusiastic and spirited conversations on keeping neighborhoods together, and of course, there was some jockeying by some residents to ensure that they could position themselves to be the leading voice for future development.
In order to establish a SMD, Redistricting Task Force Members had to get close and personal with each other and count each resident within a census track. A census track is essentially the number of people that live on a block within a neighborhood. The goal was to have each SMD have between 1900 and 2100 residents. As you can imagine this process was time consuming. Here are some photos below so you can get a sense of what you missed.

Incredibly detailed work

Sandra Seegars, Wanda Lockridge and
Pho Palmer counting away

Mary Cuthbert and Markus Batchelor

Yup, definitely a contact sport

Ward 8 Taskforce Chair Anthony Motley
 taking some heat from Mrs. Gray.
Got to have some thick skin to do
 this kind of work.
50 + 211 + 34 = whew this is a lot of work

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