Ward 6, that anvil-shaped jurisdiction bisected by the Anacostia River, is arguably the hottest political battleground of the election year.
The ward is a prize in the mayoral campaign, the home to two of the leading contenders in the Democratic race for D.C. delegate and the site of a fierce contest for a D.C. Council seat to boot.
From affluent neighborhoods on Capitol Hill to poverty-stricken sections of Anacostia, the ward has the two extremes of wealth in Washington, but enough middle-income voters in between to make the median household income nearly that of the citywide average, $22,400.
Election-year issues are as diverse as the ward itself; residents on the Northeast side of the river are troubled by the loss of neighborhood stores such as Mega Foods and Safeway, while many of those on the Southeast side feel bypassed by the prosperity they see in the neighborhoods around Capitol Hill.
As the final weekend before the primary approaches, at-large council member John Ray is widely regarded to have the best organization in the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination, but rival David A. Clarke, the council chairman, has very strong ties to progressives around the Hill. Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) is expected to do well among the large number of city government workers and gay people who live in the ward; Del. Walter E. Fauntroy has a negligible organization in the ward.
The mayor's race in Ward 6 is almost too close to call, although Ray appears to have an edge, with Clarke also running strong.
Delegate candidates Betty Ann Kane and Eleanor Holmes Norton live in the ward, but Kane's roots go much deeper. Democratic activists give Kane, an at-large member of the D.C. Council, high marks for tending to her political base on the Hill, serving constituents when Ward 6 council member Nadine P. Winter seemed to neglect them.
Some longtime party activists, many of them Kane loyalists, also were annoyed recently when Norton claimed to be an active member of the Democratic organization in the ward.
"I think Betty Ann carries the ward -- she's been very responsive to the needs of Ward 6," said Donna Scheeder, a Democratic activist who has lived on the Hill for 20 years. However, Norton, a former Carter administration official, has the support of many liberal white and black residents of the ward.
Winter faces a vigorous challenge in her bid for a fifth term from Harold E. Brazil, but few party leaders expect her to lose the Democratic primary. Winter has several things going for her: a crowded field that will dilute her opponents' strength, a strong base at the northern end of the ward and good support in Anacostia, where she has won the endorsement of influential pastor Willie F. Wilson of Union Temple Baptist Church.
Winter will likely lose precincts 130 and 89 -- the affluent and largely white Hill enclave where many residents say she is inattentive to their needs. And she will likely split several precincts in the heart of the ward. However, she should be able to more than offset her losses in the predominantly black areas north of East Capitol Street and east of the Anacostia.
One face to watch in the future: Winter challenger Bernard A. Gray Sr., a lawyer and real estate broker who lost a bid for Winter's seat in 1986, but who proved to be an able stump speaker and campaigner this year.
Population (1988): 73,400
Blacks: 69 percent
Whites: 30 percent
Hispanics: 2 percent
Median Income (1986): $21,700
Registered Voters: 37,744