Separated from most of the city by Rock Creek Park, Ward 3 is the western corner of the District. Known for both its beautiful neighborhoods and wealthy enclaves, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions here have seen lots of bitter arguments over new development and change. Many Ward 3 candidates responded to our survey, and we chose four to endorse.
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 3, we chose four candidates to endorse. You can read their positions for yourself here, along with responses of many unopposed candidates.
The National Zoo, the Naval Observatory, the National Cathedral; all of these are inside the boundaries of ANC 3C. Three major thoroughfares—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Wisconsin Avenues— cut through this ANC, and it includes the neighborhoods of Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, and a portion of Cathedral Heights.
Today there are a couple of headline-grabbing issues involving this area. One is the proposed homeless shelter in Ward 3. There has been tremendous debate about this shelter’s location since Mayor Bowser announced her plan to close the DC General shelter earlier this year and replace it with new ones in all eight wards. A group of residents close to where Ward 3’s is supposed to go up have filed a lawsuit to try and halt construction.
Another contentious topic is the redevelopment of the Wardman Park Hotel, a large site that could be home to many DC residents if redeveloped into housing, but which has met a lot of neighborhood resistance and now has an uncertain future.
Finally, we asked all candidates about their priorities for the ongoing Comprehensive Plan amendment process, and how they envisioned their neighborhood accommodating more housing for incoming residents.
Perhaps because of the many hot-button issues in and around this ANC, there are a lot of contested races here. In the race for 3C05, the district at the northern border of the ANC, we endorse Emma Hersh.
Hersh’s incredibly detailed responses showed a strong support for both bus and bike improvements in the area, and while she expressed concerns about the location selection process of the Ward 3 shelter, ultimately she “would be able to support the shelter” and hopes that the community “would welcome and embrace our new neighbors.”
Hersh also says she is in favor of something different happening at the Wardman Park Hotel site, and that “[i]n its present state, the 16-acre [site] is doing far less to contribute to Woodley Park and the surrounding communities than it could.” Her aspirations for the site are in tune with her three goals for the Comprehensive Plan amendment process: more “affordable housing, transit-oriented development, and an increase in local services and amenities.” Hersh thinks all can be done in a way that “balances the importance of protecting and preserving our historic architecture and landmarks with the pursuit of opportunities to increase residential and commercial density.”
Opponent and incumbent Margaret SIegel did not send in very thorough responses, and has different positions on a number of issues. She believes that the proposal at Wardman Park was “radically out of scale with [the] neighborhood,” and did not offer a clear stance on the homeless shelter. We see Hersh as the clear choice for this district.
Along the opposite border of the ANC lies 3C08, which includes the embassy-filled area surrounding Massachusetts Avenue and the Naval Observatory. Chaz Rotenberg was our clear choice for this race.
Rotenberg is unabashedly and “strongly in favor of the proposed homeless shelter at 3320 Idaho Avenue” and proclaims that this “is the neighborhood issue I care most about.” Rotenberg also supports the development of more housing along Wisconsin Avenue, noting that “[h]ousing density has been disproportionately increasing at a lower rate in Ward 3 compared to other Wards,” and was cautiously in favor of the proposed Wardman Park project, saying that he wanted a large proportion of the 1,500 units to be made into affordable housing.
Rotenberg is running against Malia Brink, who was less enthusiastic about building more housing along transit corridors. She is also still hesitant about the homeless shelter, having testified against the first location. We hope neighbors vote for Rotenberg.
Finally, the last contested race in ANC 3C is 3C09, where Bob Ward is running against long-time incumbent Nancy MacWood. Based on their responses to our survey, we support Bob Ward here.
Ward says he is “running to offer a different point of view than the one that prevails on ANC3C today.” This includes being a strong supporter of additional housing along both Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues. He says the “Wardman Park project is one of the more exciting prospects for the area to add residential density in close proximity to transit in ANC3C,” is adamant that the “nightmare that is DC General should be closed,” and supports the current proposed shelter site, though he admits it seems to be the result of a “hastily-cut deal.”
Ward also gives specific recommendations for pedestrian and bike improvements and says one of his goals “is to make parking irrelevant for intra-neighborhood shopping,” increasing connectivity and access to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to move around. Sounds good to us.
Encompassing the neighborhoods between 42nd Street and the Potomac River, ANC 3D is the westernmost section of the District. Spring Valley, Palisades, Foxhall Crescent, and the American University are all a part of this ANC.
Relationships between this commission and American University have not always been great, so we asked candidates how they hoped to work alongside the institution. Transportation along Massachusetts Avenue and the pending Comprehensive Plan update are also of importance here.
Finally, there has been a longstanding debate about the redevelopment of the Spring Valley Shopping center, where at one point a group of neighbors fought for and won a historic designation for the site’s parking lot, effectively hampering development there.
There is one race we’d like to highlight in this area: 3D02, the neighborhoods directly surrounding American University’s campus. Here we enthusiastically support Troy Kravitz over incumbent Tom Smith.
Kravitz fended off a long legal challenge by Smith in order to run for this seat, the first time a challenger has appeared in many years. Kravitz has long “publicly supported thoughtful regeneration at the Spring Valley Shopping Center,” and also considers the planned Superfresh development nearby as an opportunity with “the potential to re-activate a largely moribund commercial district while imposing few hardships upon the nearest neighbors.” He is eager to improve relations with the ANC and American University, and has specific recommendations for improving public transit along Massachusetts Avenue.
What is most important here is that a strong challenger to Tom Smith is an opportunity, as Kravitz puts it, to end the ANC’s “pattern of obstruction at every turn.” Contributors to Greater Greater Washington have written for years about Tom Smith and his many attempts to block challengers, as well as his consistent history of opposing and slowing down many changes to the area.
If you’re a resident in 3D02, make this election count and vote for Kravitz.
In the other Ward 3 commissions (3B, 3E, & 3F), all the candidates are running unopposed. As per our endorsement process outlined here, we didn’t offer endorsements in uncontested races, though you can certainly read full candidate responses to our questionnaire here and learn more about your representatives and issues in the neighborhoods.
As for ANC 3G, we encourage residents and readers to look carefully at the the candidate responses we received, though we decided not to offer our endorsements to any candidates there.
Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 3 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 3. 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.