Community

Candidates for Advisory Neighborhood Commission Discuss and Debate Community Issues

While the independent at-large D.C. Council and D.C. State Board of Education races receive a lot of attention from the District’s electorate for the Nov. 3 general election, there are also about 300 individual advisory neighborhood commissioners positions up for grabs in each ward of the city that doesn’t get much scrutiny as other elected positions but deal with the everyday concerns of residents.

“I believe in advisory neighborhood commissioners,” Gordon-Andrew Fletcher, who represents single-member district 5A08 in Ward 5 and wants his constituents to re-elect him in the general election. “I believe ANCs are very important. They don’t have this type of position in other cities with the exception of Chicago where elected neighborhood leaders play a role in the government. This is my third time running to be a commissioner in this single-member district and I bought a house in this district with my wife so I could continue to serve.”

Advisory neighborhood commissions are government bodies on the community level in the District. The commissions are divided by single-member districts comprising of approximately 2,500 residents and represented by an elected commissioner. Commissioners serve two-year terms, are elected in the general election and sworn into office January of the next year. Commissioners receive no compensation for their work but commissions have budgets to hire staff and materials to improve their areas.

Commissioners deal with a wide range of policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation, trash collection and the District’s annual budget.

The commission system started in 1974 as a result of a referendum District voters approved by 73 percent. The first commission elections took place in the fall of 1975 and operations began in 1976.

Some commissioners have served in other elected offices in the District. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and former Mayor Adrian Fenty served as commissioners in Ward 4. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D-At Large) and Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) have served as commissioners.

Stacey Lincoln, the commissioner for 4A02 and a former staffer for D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange, wants his Shepherd Park constituents in Ward 4 to support his re-election so he can continue working to encourage economic development there.

“Shepherd Park is a diverse area,” Lincoln said. “It encompasses part of Georgia Avenue and I want to see that corridor improved economically. For too long, it has been ignored. Our residents would like to see more upscale retail on Georgia Avenue and if re-elected, I will work to see that happens.”

Lincoln’s opponent, Merrit P. Drucker, supports the economic development of Shepherd Park also but criticizes the incumbent for being “absent and not around.”

Fletcher said he wants to improve constituent services in his district, strengthen the relationship between police officers and residents and help bring in businesses “that are positive and not any more liquor stores.” Nestride Yumga, who seeks to unseat Fletcher, said the incumbent doesn’t talk to his constituents.

“I have talked to the residents of this district and 90 percent say they have not met him,” Yumga said. “They don’t know who he is. If I am elected, I will consult the community, serve the community and they will know who I am.”

In Ward 8, 8C04 Commissioner Regina Pixley wants a second term to continue “to serve and meet the needs of the disadvantaged.”

“I want to continue to be the eyes and the ears of our council member, Trayon White,” she said. “I have worked hard to help my constituents whether it is cleaning the streets of trash or delivering meals to home-bound seniors. I want to continue to focus on public safety so our neighborhood can be safe. I am proud to introduce block captains to the district to fight crime.”

Pixley faces opposition from Travon Hawkins and Regina Summers. Summers declined to comment on the race. Hawkins said he has served as a commissioner in the ward in another district and if elected, will work to bring employment opportunities to residents.

“It is important to get everyone working,” he said. “There is also a lot of crime in this area. I believe if people are working, they will not commit crimes.”

A number of commissioners, such as Robert Brannum, are running unopposed. Brannum, who seeks to represent 5E08 in Ward 5, said having no opponent in the general election will only fuel his desire to serve his neighbors.

“I want to continue to be an advocate for my community and increase the quality of life for my constituents in front of the council and the executive [Office of the Mayor],” he said. “

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