In order to provide other neighbors in our Single Member District (2B08) an opportunity to pick up petitions and run for ANC, I wanted to post a notice here that I’ve decided to retire from the ANC at the end of the year, so I will not be running for re-election this November. While it would be romantic and press-worthy to be flaming out in a tawdry scandal, caught accepting bribes taped on the inside of a Washington football team mug, or going to “hike the Appalachian trail,” the truth is much more dull: After having served for many years on the ANC, I’d like a little bit more free time to pursue other projects — like the jazz jam session that I organize at Dahlak (celebrating 5 years next month!), additional Dupont Festival events on Dupont Circle park (e.g., cinema, chess, jazz, and Shakespeare), continuing to serve as the Ward 2 representative on the Pedestrian Advisory Council and on the board of the Ward 2 Democrats, and other personal endeavors (like learning how to make sushi or getting to the end of “Breaking Bad”).
I was first elected to the ANC in July 2007 in a special election (final vote count a whopping 11 to 2!), so I just celebrated my 7-year anniversary this week. I was re-elected three times — in 2008, 2010, and 2012 — including being on the same ballot as President Obama in 2008 and 2012. (Those two ballots are framed in my office.)
In 2B08 over the years, I’ve negotiated over half a dozen liquor license agreements, led walk-throughs with Urban Forestry Administration arborists for tree box maintenance and plantings, worked with the Department of Parks and Recreation on the renovation of the “dog park” and “people park” at 17th and New Hampshire (including helping preserve the 100+-year old “swamp oak”), and worked with Lauriol Plaza to reconfigure their valet parking to create a substantially safer intersection at 18th and T. I also worked with the Department of Transportation to recover parking spots on 17th Street, to create better rush-hour traffic management at 18th and U by reconfiguring metered spots, to suggest locating a bike-share station that was ultimately installed at the “people park” at T and New Hampshire, and to recommend that pedestrian-safe bulb-outs be included in the 18th Street reconstruction project. I also started the first website, blog, e-mail list, and newsletter for 2B08, and held a series of semi-regular “SMD happy hours” at neighborhood establishments with special guests like our police sergeant, parking officials, and Council Members. (A friend used to joke that the ANC is so grassroots, we are sometimes literally arguing about the location of patches of grass. Judging from the above list, I think that’s actually a pretty accurate characterization.)
In addition to serving as 2B08 Commissioner, I’ve also been serving as Chair for the last 4+ years. I think the ANC, which was already a highly functional organization that did outstanding work, improved substantially as an organization in the last several years, especially in our public outreach and in transitioning to be a more “proactive” rather than “reactive” body — in other words, not just reviewing regulatory applications, but also tackling important issues, projects, infrastructure, and policy questions that affect the neighborhood and the city. We launched a new website in 2010, created two intern positions to improve our decision-making and communications, drafted a comprehensive policies and procedures manual to assist future commissioners and community members in understanding how the ANC operates and makes decisions, created a new annual report format to better inform and engage the community and the Council about our work, and established several committees to discuss development issues, liquor policies, public safety, transportation, and public infrastructure in a more in-depth way.
To be frank, I hadn’t quite realized how many different projects, issues, and organizational development matters I have gotten to work on until I started to put together the above two paragraphs. It has been quite a learning experience! However, the most satisfying and enjoyable part of being on the ANC has been getting to know so many people in the community — including neighbors, activists, shopkeepers, restaurateurs, fellow Commissioners, D.C. government employees, and other elected officials. I definitely feel a deeper connection to where I live now than I could otherwise have imagined, and I am very grateful for that.
Since I will no longer be on the Commission after the end of December, I’ll also be stepping down as Chair in the next 1-2 months, in order to provide other Commissioners an opportunity to learn more about managing the organization before I retire. I’ll remain active and assist the new Chair and other officers in ensuring continuity and a smooth transition. And, I am excited about wrapping up some key projects before the end of the year, like the long-planned renovation of our Dupont Circle Resource Center, the launch of a more interactive and mobile-friendly ANC 2B website, and the finalization of a new and more comprehensive policies and procedures manual.
For anyone interested in running for 2B08, petitions may be picked up at the Board of Elections and Ethics at 441 4th Street NW and are due by August 6th. To be on the ballot, 25 signatures of registered voters in 2B08 are required. I’d be happy to talk with anyone about the experience of running or serving on the ANC.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to serve the neighborhood!