Loose Lips’ analysis of D.C. Council redistricting (“Watching Out for Numero Uno,” 3/23) fails utterly to take into account that the share of the District’s population located in predominantly white, affluent neighborhoods has been increasing for several decades. There is no doubt that the “working-class, African-American residents” of whom LL speaks are less politically influential, person-for-person, than fellow citizens who are well-to-do, white, or both. That said, the problem working-class African-Americans face in redistricting, which LL ignores, is that their share of the city’s population almost certainly continues to shrink. (We’ll know for sure when detailed census figures for D.C. are released in the next few months.)
The history of home-rule-era redistricting reveals a consistent pattern of ward lines’ marching westward with the city’s population. When those lines were drawn for the first council elections in 1974, for example, Ward 3 included all of Georgetown. Following the 1980 census, most of Georgetown was transferred to Ward 2; a sliver that included the home of then-Councilmember Polly Shackleton remained in Ward 3. Following the 1990 census, the rest of Georgetown and Foxhall Village were transferred from Ward 3 to Ward 2. As Ward 2 has shifted westward, it has lost the neighborhoods to the east. The pattern of ward lines shifting to the west has been repeated elsewhere in the city. Downtown Anacostia remained in Ward 6 after 1990 only because of a spirited effort to keep it there; it will be even more difficult this time to avoid placing it in Ward 7 or Ward 8. For the record, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham already represents the smaller of the two precincts that together include Woodley Park.
Race and class are difficult enough issues for Washington without LL’s forgetting the principle of one person, one vote.