Ward 1 Council hopeful Lori Parker hopes make the area more inclusive.
She has served in all three branches of government serving 11 years as a magistrate judge in the D.C. Superior Court, an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) and a senior adviser on the former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams’ administration — experience she says gives her a “unique perspective of District needs.”
Now, she hopes to improve constituent services by increasing community engagement.
Parker entered the race in June and stands against ANC Kent C. Boese and, presumably, incumbent Brianne Nadeau.
“I don’t consider myself as running against someone,” Parker said. “I consider myself and my team to be running for something. I’m fighting for Ward 1 for all.”
She says her slogan means improving constituent services for old and residents and businesses owners alike.
“When it’s better for everybody, it’s better for everybody,” Parker said, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt.
The ward has seen economic prosperity in recent years. In “Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City,” a book published in May, the ward’s Shaw and U Street neighborhoods’ turn-of-the-century gentrification and its lasting effects on the historically African-American cultural centers is chronicled.
The book’s author, Derek Hyra, a notable policy expert and 2014 U.S. Congressional candidate for Northern Virginia, highlighted trends of “political and cultural displacement” of longtime residents.
He said new developments and amenities often don’t fit longtime residents.
“Although [this community] looks very diverse, there are micro levels of segregation,” Hyra told American University’s Policy Explainer. “The newcomers and the long-term residents don’t talk to one another.”
Parker said her platform priorities are prompt responses to community concerns, developing policy that have long-term sustainability as a goal and increasing constituent participation and engagement in the political process, all areas she said are currently in need of improvement in the ward.
“The ward is in an upswing, but in order for it to achieve its full potential, we need to make sure that everyone feels a part of the community, feels a sense of belonging and feels that there are opportunities to contribute and participate in a more inclusive and engaged way,” Parker said.
She says, if elected, some of her legislative priorities would be the passage and funding of greater property tax relief for low- and middle-income senior homeowners, and funding for a law that went into effect in April to establish protections and financial supports for elderly tenants and tenants with disabilities, including a legal limit to rent increases.
Parker also wants to continue investment in local businesses and make sure any development in the ward meets the requirements of existing tax abatement including compliance with community benefits and local resident employment requirements.
She has already appeared at several community meetings in the ward and plans to keep them as a regular part of her schedule.
“A legislator can only be as good as the information he or she receives from the people most impacted by legislation,” Parker said. “Our campaign stands for being informed, inclusive and engaging.”
She says she will work hard over the next year to engage residents and business owners to hear directly their concerns and legislative suggestions.