With the primaries completed, races for advisory neighborhood commissioner in the upcoming Nov. 8 general election continue to receive greater attention due to the quality of candidates and the issues with which they have to address given the District’s growing economy and changing neighborhoods
And Ward 8 has its share of competitive races.
“There has been a change in how people perceive advisory neighborhoods commissions,” D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) said. “ANCs are a lot more prominent and with all of the development that is taking place in the city, it is the advisory neighborhood commissioners who are really dealing with the developers. ANCs are dealing with critical policy issues.”
Commissioners are elected for two-year terms on a non-partisan basis and serve with no pay benefits. The commissioners mainly act as their neighborhood’s official voice to the District government and federal agencies on matters such as zoning, streets, recreation, social services, sanitation, planning, safety, budget and health services. District agencies are required by law to give recommendations offered by advisory neighborhood commissions “great weight” in making decisions. In addition, agencies cannot take action that will significantly affect a neighborhood unless they give the affected commission 30 days advance notice.
There are 40 advisory neighborhood commissions with 296 single-member district represented by a commissioner. A commissioner represents roughly 2,000 residents. The commissions are grouped together by contiguous neighborhoods and operate within the ward system.
Noteworthy Ward 8 Commissioner Candidates
Markus Batchelor served as the Ward 8 representative to the D.C. State Board of Education from 2017-2021 and as a candidate for the at-large seat on the D.C. Council in 2020. However, he served as the commissioner for the then single-member district 8C04 from 2015-2017. Batchelor wants to serve another term as a commissioner and counts as a candidate for the 8C06 district.
“I have been thinking about issues differently since the new boundaries of 8C06 have been set up,” Batchelor said. “There are issues that need attention such as development around the Congress Heights Metro Station. But basically, I am a kid from Congress Heights and I am looking forward to serve if the people elect me. Elected office is a good place to be.”
Batchelor will face present commissioner Robbie Woodland and Betty Murray in the November 8 general election. The Rev. Rowena Joyce Scott, a former president of the Ward 8 Democrats and longtime political activist, has decided to run for commissioner again.
“I served as a commissioner over 30 years ago and I am back,” said Scott, a candidate for single-member district 8E08. “There need to be stop lights and street bumps in my neighborhood. I also want to help the children in my neighborhood. Their behavior is off the chain.”
Scott, who faces no opposition in her bid for office, said she’d like to start the process of the District government building a resource center for at-risk youth in her neighborhood.
“This is the nation’s capital and I know we can do it here,” she said.
During the redistricting process that occurred earlier this year, Ward 8 added large portions of the Navy Yard neighborhood west of the Anacostia River. Several new advisory neighborhood commissions single-member districts resulted from the redrawn boundaries of the ward and Clayton Rosenberg, an anti-gang violence activist, has submitted petitions to become the commissioner for single-member district 8F04.
“I have always wondered what I could do for my community,” Rosenberg said. “Now that my community is in Ward 8, I want to make a difference by doing something positive. We face some of the same issues Ward 8 residents east of the river face so I think we can coordinate and work together to solve them.”
While residents are running for commissioner throughout Ward 8, in 8D commission, districts 1 through 4 have no candidates. District law states that if a vacancy occurs, the position must be made available to the public by way of the D.C. Register who must make petitions available. If one person files a petition and has met the qualifications to serve as a commissioner, that individual gets the office. If there are two or more candidates, a special election becomes necessary and it will be called by the D.C. Board of Elections. The individual who receives the most votes will become the commissioner. The process continues until the vacancy has been filled.