A Community Divided When Their Vote Matters Most

Residents of Ward 1, ANC 1C, gather for their monthly meetings to discuss the politics of their surrounding community in Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Health in Northwest Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: Kaprielle Trenard

Midterm elections will determine who will represent voters across the United States. The elections will also impact communities across the country.  In the nation’s capital, many voters are facing their own dilemmas that may make this voting season a difficult one—  many of the registered are still unaware of exactly who or what they will be voting for on November 6.

Residents of Washington D.C’s Ward 1 will vote for either a new member, Jamie Sycamore, to serve in the D.C. City Council, or re-elect their current representative, Democrat Brianne Nadeau.  Residents of the community will also cast their votes for a new member of the State Board of Education. The three candidates running for the position include Callie Kozlak, Jason Andrean, and Emily Gasoi.

Ward 1 Residents Amanda Caviness and Charles Gary are both eager to vote in their community’s upcoming election.

“I sure am,” stated Gary. “I just want to help revitalize the community.”

Caviness also expressed her excitement but said their community is divided between the ‘discouraged’ and the ‘encouraged’.

New Resident of Ward 1, Shannon Logan, is amongst the discouraged because what she describes as a lack of voter knowledge and candidate/campaign awareness in her new neighborhood.

“I’m not really interested in voting because I’ve lost hope.. at this point, is it really going to happen this time around or are we going to keep seeing the same thing?”

Constance Mcclanahan, long-time resident and polls volunteer, is a regular voter; but, she too is concerned.

“I know we have to vote and I vote every time…but when we vote in DC, it’s like what good does it do because we don’t have anybody really speaking for a large part of our community which consists of African- Americans.”

While African Americans make up 32% of Ward 1, according to Suburban Stats, this percentage has lowered over the years as gentrification increased.

Other issues that residents are concerned about in their ward are street harassment, gun violence, and affordable housing.  Many say they have not seen as much progress in recent years regarding these topics of concern.

“We need more affordable housing, all over the city, not just in Ward 1,”  says Mcclanahan. “Lately, we’ve had a quite a bit of shootings in the neighborhood like LeDroit Park.”  Logan also says a large percentage of the black community feels as though Mayor Bowser doesn’t do much for them specifically. Logan agrees.

“Our local government needs to listen to the people more and since gentrification is rising, I feel like they are catering to the people who are moving here, so the people that have been in the community are being neglected.”

Gary says communities will gain more awareness if representatives spoke with the seniors of Ward 1.

“Our representatives need more seniors to get involved in the decision making. They need to get more people to knock on doors and get to know which seniors are uninformed… They are the people who have always been here. Getting their advice on a lot of issues would be a good decision for the betterment of the community.”

Another solution might be for the residents to get to know their leaders. Brianne Nadeau is the current council member of Ward 1.

Constance Mcclanahan says Nadeau is “pretty good” at what she does. However, Nadeau was not the person who Mcclanahan thought deserved the most recognition for the progress seen in her community.

“I know that my ANC, Anita Norman, is very dynamic and is really good at what she does. She makes sure that things get done in the neighborhood, and makes sure that they especially get done now that those ‘other people’ have moved in.”