Cutting Edge Programming
The Ward 8 Democrats prides itself on engaging Ward 8 voters with quality programming that is not only life-changing but life-affirming. Under the leadership of President Prestwood and Ward 8 Action slate members Sheila Bunn, Stuart Anderson, and Darryl Ross, our programming went from great to powerful, most of which while in the grips of a global pandemic. Here are a few of our accomplishments:
Ward 8 2020 Census-ready Campaign – We created a microsite for Ward 8 residents to access DC and Ward 8-specific news and information to help them get 2020 Census ready. Worked with the DC Office of Planning to help train over 20 Ward 8 to become 2020 Census Ambassadors.
Annual Kwanzaa Celebrations – In 2019, our Kwanzaa celebration featured mothers who lost their sons and daughters to DC gun violence. Each mother read a Kwanzaa principle in honor of their loved one. And in 2020, we featured Ward 8’s unsung heroes fighting on the front lines to make our ward great.
Ward 8 Budget Forums – The Ward 8 Democrats has teamed up with the Office of Councilmember Trayon White, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and several ward-serving nonprofits to host budget forums in the community. Our goal was to help inform residents about the DC budgeting process and prepare them to participate in agency oversight and budget hearings.
LGBTQ Pride Month – The Ward 8 Democrats is committed to elevating the voices of everyone in our community. Under the leadership of President Prestwood and members of the Ward 8 Action slate, the Ward 8 Democrats became the first Democratic ward organization to honor the lives and contributions of LGBTQ residents in the ward with its first-ever pride month celebration. The events—held in 2020 and again this summer—featured Ward 8 advocates fighting on the front lines for diversity, inclusion, and policy changes on matters such as healthcare, housing, and employment.
Getting on DC Boards and Commissions – Part of the Ward 8 platform is to get more Ward 8 residents to serve on one of the dozens of DC Boards and Commissions. Under the leadership of President Prestwood and members of the Ward 8 Action slate, we held a forum with the director of the Mayor's Office of Talent and Appointments (MOTA for residents to learn about the vetting process, ask questions on overcoming barriers, and to meet and hear from current Ward 8 residents serving on a DC Board of Commission.
Ward 8 Lifetime Achievement Awards – The Ward 8 Democrats launched its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Awards to honor and celebrate Ward 8 individuals or entities that have made an indelible mark on the greater Ward 8 community with a lifetime of outstanding achievements and contributions as trailblazers, inspirational leaders, and public servants.
Engagement with Ward 8 Democratic Voters
The Ward 8 Democrats is one of the most visible Democratic clubs in the District and has continued that tradition by co-sponsored events and activities in the community including events with our seniors and at our schools. But when the pandemic hit, under the leadership of President Prestwood and members of the Ward 8 Action slate, the Ward 8 Democrats was one of the first DC Democratic organizations to go virtual. As a result, the organization experienced some of its largest audiences ever during the height of the pandemic.
Ward 8 Democratic programming, our website, and social media platforms attracted thousands of Ward 8 voters seeking information on DC Democratic primary and general election candidates, as well as locations of vote centers and drop boxes. Many watched our live or on-demand voter education and candidates’ forums for Ward 8 and At-Large Council and Ward 8 and At-Large State School Board of Education representatives. At every meeting, President Prestwood continues to shares life-saving information on the latest COVID-19 conditions in the District and in our ward as well as locations where to get tested or vaccinated.
During the historic DC Statehood hearings in Congress, the organization held two successful statehood rallies in Anacostia and Congress Heights. As election day approached, the organization held a voter rally and organized a motorcade with candidates through the streets of Ward 8. We’ve participated in the John Lewis National Day of Action event held in Ward 8, sponsored community events focused on opioids and homelessness, and help fund two major back-to-school book bag and school supply drives in the ward. The organization looks to do even more in years to come.
Investing in Ward 8 Voters During the Pandemic
When Ward 8 voters looked for strong leadership to guide them through the 2020 election cycle during the global pandemic, the organization under President Prestwood and the members of the Ward 8 Action slate, made multifold investments to turn out Ward 8 Democratic voters with safety in mind. First, we saw a crisis in the making during the primary season. This led our executive committee to send a letter to the DC Board of Elections in advance of the primary warning of an impending disaster if they didn’t invest in the voting infrastructure of Ward 8. President Prestwood later testified before the DC Council asking for more resources, which was granted, for future DC elections with a focus on Ward 8.
The organization set up the first of its kind voter hotline where hundreds of Ward 8 voters called if they had questions about the voting process or to locate vote centers and drop box locations for their mail-in ballots. The organization also invested in an unpreceded digital and social media campaign as well as text messaging to residents in low-voter turnout precincts. But we didn’t stop there. That’s why we also embarked on a targeted traditional media outreach out with postcard mailings and robocalls with a focus on our seniors and other venerable populations.
Development and the future
Under the leadership of President Prestwood and the Ward 8 Action slate, the organization has raised nearly $10,000 to invest in Ward 8 voters—marking it the largest infusion of resources in many years. Thanks to the incredible donations, we were able to fund important voter outreach and education campaigns as well as co-sponsor other events and activities of importance in our community. We will continue looking for new and innovative ways to raise funds for our work as the organization continues pushing for progressive voting methods including vote by mail and vote by app; fighting for policies and legislation that advances our ward specifically around public safety, employment, education, youth, seniors, and those who feel marginalized; continue developing our youth outreach committee to better engage high schoolers and to work with students to start Democratic clubs at all Ward 8 high schools, and continue the fight for voting rights and to make the District the nation's 51st state.