When tourists visit DC, they spend most of their time in Ward 2. After all, it’s home to Georgetown, Dupont and Logan Circle, downtown, and the Mall. But for the people who call these places home, there are decisions to make in your local elections this November. Below, we’ve written about six candidates we advise voting for in competitive Advisory Neighborhood Commission races.
What are ANCs, and why should I care?
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly and weigh in with the government about important issues to the community. ANCs are very important on housing and transportation. An ANC’s opposition to new housing, retail, a bike lane, bus improvements, etc. can stymie or significantly delay valuable projects. On the other hand, proactive and positive-thinking ANCs give the government suggestions for ways to improve the neighborhood and rally resident support.
Each ANC is divided into a number of Single Member Districts (SMDs), averaging about 2,000 voters. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes; Your vote— every vote— really counts.
Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.
Here are our endorsements
After reviewing the candidate responses from each competitive race in Ward 2, we chose six candidates to endorse. Here, you can read their positions, along with responses from many unopposed candidates.
As with a few of the districts in Ward 2, ANC 2A covers an area that is full of buildings but not necessarily full of voting residents. George Washington University in this ANC, and the school creates an interesting dynamic (which you also see around other universities in DC). Commissioners here must balance the needs of students and residents, even if many students are not DC voters. Another interesting piece of the puzzle is that sometimes, ambitious students run for ANC seats to get their political feet wet.
Aside from influencing voters and candidates, George Washington is an issue in and of itself for ANC 2A thanks to thinks like the school’s campus plan. Another topic facing 2A is homelessness in the area, an issue highlighted especially last year when the encampments near the Watergate Hotel were cleared multiple times by city officials.
There is only one competitive race in this ANC: 2A03, a small district sandwiched between Pennsylvania Avenue and I Street. And here, we like
one of those aspiring GW students : Marco Guzman.
In terms of Guzman’s stance on the university’s campus plan, he hopes the school continues to “stay true to their ‘grow up, not out’ growth plan,” and is happy with the university’s progress in building more student housing and discouraging student parking in the area. As far as homelessness goes, Guzman says he will rely on what he learned while working on the issue with the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and will make sure “homeless individuals have access to and knowledge of the resources available to them.”
We liked what Guzman had to say on other issues as well. He is clear that he wants to preserve parts of historic Foggy Bottom, but also is not afraid “to see taller buildings to help accommodate increased density.” While he did skip some transportation questions on our survey, he was supportive of bike lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue.
Marco’s opponent, Matthew Chwastek, seemed reasonable but opposed to many changes to his neighborhood. When asked what he would like the area look like in 20 years, his reply was short and simple: “I would like to maintain the current look and feel of the neighborhood.” He also prioritized street parking over better bus service. We think Guzman should get a chance to sit as commissioner.
The neighborhoods directly surrounding Dupont Circle make up ANC 2B. Specifically, the boundaries stretch down from Florida Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue, and west from 15th and 16th Streets towards Rock Creek Parkway.
Neighbors here battle with some of the same questions DC residents are facing across the city: How do we keep this neighborhood affordable? How do we decrease our dependence on parking? How can we accommodate housing for new residents?
Teal Baker, candidate for ANC 2B05, had particularly good answers to many of these questions, and we’re endorsing her. Baker’s district, a relatively long one that makes up the southeastern corner of the ANC, runs north from the White House to Q Street.
For Baker, the answers to the above questions are often related, especially density and affordability: “I favor increased housing density to allow for the creation of more affordable rental units. It is vital that our Commissioners bargain hard with developers to include ample affordable housing units in each new development project.” In particular, she is in favor of adding more housing along the 16th Street corridor.
Baker is hesitant to remove parking or advocate for less of it even for better bus service, but is “really proud of the protected bike lanes on 15th Street” and believes “we need more options” like those to help non-motorized commuters in the neighborhood.
We also liked some of what Randy Downs, Baker’s competitor, had to say. In general his answers were less specific, but he seemed supportive of creating more affordable housing and improving bike and public transit. In the end, we thought Teal’s experience and clearer vision for the neighborhood came through in her responses, and it was enough to win our endorsement.
In the northwest corner of the ANC, the small 2B09 is also contested this year. In this race, we think Scott Davies is the obvious choice.
In many places, Davies was cautious in his responses to our questionnaire. He was clearly hesitant when asked if he would support density and more housing in the area, but said he believed there should always be “room for discussion so our automatic response isn’t just ‘no’.” Similarly, he did not take a strong stance on reducing parking, but did say “there is room to support the new zoning regulations that recognize we live in an area with great public transit.”
We definitely prefer Davies over his opponent, Ed Hanlon. Hanlon was very protective of parking in his SMD, and was generally suspicious of new housing in his area. When asked about improving or adding bike lanes, Hanlon mostly discussed the problem of bicyclists riding “far too fast on the sidewalks” and advocated for extending the downtown ban on sidewalk-riding.
What is more, readers wrote in that Hanlon has had a history of drama in the neighborhood, once getting a protective order filed against him during an ongoing argument with a neighbor over an outdoor deck. We believe Davies would be a good addition to the ANC this year.
ANC 2E is Georgetown, home to Georgetown University and some very delicious cupcakes. How to accommodate a growing DC in Georgetown is a particularly prevalent issue, as neighbors traditionally fight to maintain the “village” look and feel over any attempt to add more housing. Parking is another constant source of debate, as the neighborhood receives daily influxes of visitors and has no Metro stop to provide an alternative to driving.
There are two contested ANC races in this area. The first is ANC 2E03, the area directly surrounding the main entrance to Georgetown University. Looking at the two candidates running here, we think you should support Greg Miller.
Miller noted that Georgetown’s federal historic status leaves few chances for adding housing, but seemed supportive of doing so in select cases when possible. He is strongly in favor of “wider sidewalks and bike lanes along M Street,” and as a non-car owner, he relies “on transit, walking, and biking to get around the city so [is] generally supportive of improving our transit options.” Additionally, Miller included a number of specific proposals in his responses to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
Rick Murphy, Miller’s opponent, had reasonable answers to our questionnaire as well. In the end, we decided to support Miller as he seemed to be more open to many of the changes we typically advocate for here at Greater Greater Washington.
The other contested race in Georgetown is 2E05, which makes up the entire southern border of the ANC, running south from Prospect and M Streets to the Potomac River. We could not identify a candidate to endorse in this race.
Incumbent Bill Starrels gave short and generally unhelpful answers to our questionnaire, but does write to say that “[t]he historic integrity of Georgetown is paramount” to development decisions. Challenger Lisa Palmer took more care with her answers and we liked some of the things she had say, in particular her ideas for bike lane improvements.
But in the end, we weren’t convinced of some of her stances, as she spent more time explaining situations and promising to work closely with agencies and neighbors than making plain her views with clearer recommendations and opinions.
If you are a resident in this area, make sure to read both candidate responses here and make your own decision.
The final ANC in Ward 2 with contested races is 2F, which is basically the Logan Circle neighborhood, traveling south down 14th Street into downtown. One prominent site in this area, Franklin Square Park and the adjacent Franklin School, will eventually be redeveloped and is a place where ANC commissioners will exert some influence in coming years. Also of importance in this ANC are proposals to improve bus service, including talk of potential express bus service down 14th Street.
Above the actual Logan Circle lies 2F’s northernmost district, 2F01, where we’re endorsing Jason Forman. Forman had good answers on bicycle and pedestrian issues, but was less solid elsewhere. He recognizes that “adding dedicated bus line for 14th Street is needed for residents,” but demands that this be done with no “net loss of residential parking spaces.” He is open to more development in the neighborhood, but says that the area is “already hyper dense.”
Above all else, we support Jason over his opponent Casey Root. Root is clear on buses: “I am against bus lanes.” He is similarly clear on bike lanes: “I do not support additional bike lanes as they are abused as they currently stand.” He is definitely for parking: “I would vote against limiting and or removing any street parking.”
We hope Jason wins a term as commissioner here.
Farther south, the small triangle made by Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont Avenues is ANC 2F03. This is a very close race, and we liked both candidates here a lot. Ultimately, we sided with challenger Alex Graham over sitting commissioner Pepin Tuma.
There is a lot to like in Graham’s responses. He has grand visions for the future of Franklin Square Park, and “fully support[s] dedicated bus lanes on major thoroughfares including 16th and 14th Streets,” despite some concerns from a few neighbors. He has smart recommendations for where to incorporate more housing into an already dense neighborhood, and wants to “make sure that our bike highways are effectively connected to each other.”
Here was one reason Graham thinks he deserves your vote: “I have a knack at accomplishing things in an extremely bureaucratic environment.” ANCs are the right place for you, sir.
Incumbent Pepin Tuma also seems great. He agrees that “[e]xpress service makes a lot of sense” on 14th Street, and points out that during his term he has worked to improve bus service in the corridor already. Likewise, he supports improvements to bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and wants to make sure current residents have opportunities to stay in their neighborhoods even as development continues.
Like we said, this is a tough call, but Graham just edges his opponent out to win our endorsement.
Just south of 2F03 is 2F05. This district includes Thomas Circle, the surrounding neighborhood and parts of downtown. This is another place where we didn’t land on a clear winner for our endorsement.
One candidate, Ron Rubin, was hesitant to throw his support behind adjustments to bus infrastructure on 14th Street. He is supportive of bike lanes and has specific recommendations for places to add more housing, but also focused a lot on process in his answers. Omeed Alerasool was similarly defensive of parking over bus improvements, though he was more clearly in favor of an express bus on 14th Street.
While not perfect, both of these candidates seem generally good and we just couldn’t find reason to endorse one over the other. Residents, here are their answers in full. Vote for who you think is best.
Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 2 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 2. You can also see responses and our endorsements for all 8 wards on our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page, and we’ll publish our rationale for those in upcoming posts.
These are official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington. To determine this year’s endorsements, we sent a reader-generated candidate questionnaire to all ANC candidates. We then published candidate responses and collected feedback. Staff evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and presented endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.
Correction: In the original version of this post, we wrote that Marco Guzman was a George Washington student. That’s not the case; Marco received a BS from Arizona State and a masters degree in public policy from George Mason.