There are 20 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) seats this year with no one on the ballot: no candidate registered before this summer’s deadline. Write-in candidates for eight of those empty seats filled out our candidate questionnaire. Here are their responses and our endorsements.

If there is no one on the ballot for your ANC seat, you can still write someone in! Photo by Michael Rosenstein on Flickr.

Last week we wrote about the 20 ANC races this year with no candidate on the ballot. We asked any write-in candidates already out there to get in touch and take our survey so we could evaluate their stances on issues we care about. Eleven candidates answered the call, and we’ve collected their responses here.

After reviewing all responses, we found eight we’d like to endorse for write-in candidates. If you live in one of these neighborhoods, please consider writing these names in! Without their name printed on the ballot, these candidates need all the help and exposure they can get.

Map created with Mapbox, data from OpenStreetMap.

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. This is especially true for write-in candidates, whose biggest challenge is simply getting enough people to remember their name when they go to the ballot box.

Not sure which SMD you live in? Find out here.

Howard University. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

In Ward 1, we endorse John Cochrane, Nicole Cacozza, Albert Lang, and Ryan Strom

Many write-in candidates from Ward 1 completed our survey. Two answered from ANC 1B, which includes the neighborhoods of Pleasant Plains, LeDroit Park, and U Street. We wrote about some of the key neighborhood issues there in our earlier endorsement post.

One empty seat this election is ANC 1B06, the area stretching west from Cardozo High School. For this district, we think you should write-in John Cochrane.

Cochrane had clear ideas for where new housing could go in his neighborhood, in particular pointing out some “surface lots that are screaming to be re-purposed along 14th Street.” He had specific recommendations for bike and pedestrian improvements throughout the area, and when asked about possibly removing street parking for better bus service said he was “inclined to tip… towards better bus service” if all else were equal.

To the east, Nicole Cacozza was the only candidate we heard from in ANC 1B10. This area includes some residential areas near Howard University and McMillan Reservoir.

Cacozza is excited about what is in store for her neighborhood: “As we can see from the renovations and construction on Georgia Avenue, our neighborhood is already changing into what it could be in 20 years. While the promise of new businesses and apartments is exciting, I think that the best thing for the neighborhood is to preserve a balance of livability and open space alongside the development that is already occurring.”

She is supportive of adding more housing and bike lanes in the area, and approves the current dedicated bus lane on Georgia Avenue, saying she supports “extending it further north into my district.”

Full disclosure: Nicole also volunteers as one of our Breakfast Links curators, so of course we are excited to support her in this goal!

Adams Morgan. Photo by Ted Eytan on Flickr.

There are two candidates we want to endorse in Adams Morgan’s ANC 1C, which is great because as you might have read in our previous post, originally we did not have any candidates in competitive races to endorse there.

ANC 1C01 is generally the area south of Wyoming Avenue between Columbia Road and 18th Street—the southwestern edge of Adams Morgan. Here we support Albert Lang.

When asked how he would address public safety in the area, Lang says the issue goes “hand in hand with flourishing businesses and additional housing,” that “more people living in the area means more people patronizing business means more people around,” which makes the area safer. He is also strongly supports the redevelopment of the SunTrust bank, and says there “is no reason in today’s world that the process should be so drawn out and contentious”.

Farther north in the upper part of Lanier Heights lies ANC 1C05, and here we endorse Ryan Strom as a write-in candidate.

Strom’s answer to our question about the SunTrust bank is incredibly in tune with how many feel about this ongoing controversy:

I think there is a small minority of residents who are set in how the neighborhood should look and feel. I look around at my changing neighborhood and see progress. The 18th street streetscape, the Ontario Theater building’s renovation, the historic hotel’s construction to name a few. All of these have increased retail, foot traffic, housing values and residents in such a great urban mixed-use neighborhood; this is exactly why this is my favorite section of the city. The Sun Trust Plaza redevelopment is simply a continuation of such work.

…I think many residents fear that increased construction would destroy their way of life in their neighborhood, but in reality it simply seeks to improve it offering more. More retail, more restaurant options, more amenities and offering these services to more people to enjoy. The ANC should of course seek to balance many things, but the ANC should not be exclusionary in its mission or view itself as protecting the status quo to the detriment of all others.

Well said.

On affordable housing, Strom is also frustrated that “the ANC has not been… pushing affordable housing as a benefit they want to see developers offer.” Instead, the commission has used “its political clout (and successfully) to limit the buildings scope/design and size” and not used its energy and “clout to increase affordable housing.” Additionally, Strom is in favor of better connecting bike lanes across the area, and is supportive of improving bus infrastructure.

We received a response from another write-in candidate in this race: Ron Baker. Ron has been a long time advocate for the area and was instrumental in organizing opposition to the downzoning in Lanier Heights that unfortunately passed earlier this year. Based on the two candidates’ responses to our survey, we decided to endorse Strom here, but it is great that two strong candidates have stepped forward to fill this empty seat!

George Washington University. Photo by Ken Lund on Flickr.

In Ward 2, we endorse Eve Zhurbinskiy

Incumbent Eve Zhurbinskiy is looking for a second term as commissioner for 2A08, and we think that’s a good idea. Her SMD encompasses George Washington University and the area directly east along Pennsylvania Avenue; read here to learn about the issues affecting neighbors there.

When asked about addressing homelessness in the neighborhood, Zhurbinskiy has a host of ideas, many of which she developed while serving on the Foggy Bottom Association’s Homelessness Task Force. She says she “will continue to work to identify neighborhood projects related to ending homelessness that qualify for grant funding from the ANC.”

Zhurbinskiy also had a number of successes in her first term on everything from improving policing to pedestrian improvements in the ANC. All of this on top of being a student at George Washington! We hope voters nearby grant her a second term.

Cleveland Park. Photo by NCinDC on Flickr.

In Ward 3, we endorse Beau Finley and Michael Sriqui

Just east of the Cleveland Park Metro Station is 3C04, part of an ANC where there are a number of pressing issues this election.

We think Beau Finley is a good candidate to fill this seat. Finley is fully supportive of the homeless shelter proposed nearby, saying “homelessness is a city-wide issue in need of multiple city-wide solutions, with each Ward doing its part.”

He is also excited about the chance to “reimagine Woodley Park” with the development at Wardman Park. He understands that there are many issues to be addressed with such an influx of new residents, but ultimately that “redevelopment cannot be rejected or concessioned into abandonment simply because it would upset the status quo.”

We think Finley’s reasonable and positive responses reveal a good candidate for this ANC.

To the west is the Palisades neighborhood, part of ANC 3D and an area we wrote about here. The westernmost corner of this commission is 3D04, and write-in candidate Michael Sriqui looks like a solid choice for that neighborhood.

Sriqui wants the ANC to focus less on the small disagreements and issues between themselves and American University, and instead reiterate “the general benefits having a major college campus brings to a neighborhood.” He also believes through experience that “[w]e can have growth, promote housing policies that better reflect our professed progressive values, and maintain the leafy, residential character of our neighborhoods without much sacrifice.”

He has clear ideas for improving bike infrastructure, and sees clear opportunities for better bus service that would only affect un-zoned parking. Finally, Sriqui shares his frustration with the obstructionist past of his ANC: “There is little, beside irrational fear of change, to suggest that empty store fronts, lightly used parking lots, and ‘historic’ garages promote the bucolic vision supposedly behind always saying ‘no’ to development.”

We hope Sriqui will be a part of a real culture change in ANC 3D and encourage neighbors to write him in.

Takoma Metro station. Photo by art around on Flickr.

In Ward 4, we endorse Tanya Topolewski

Finally, we received two responses from write-in candidates in Ward 4, specifically for the Takoma-area ANC 4B which we discussed in this post. For the empty ballot on 4B02, the neighborhood along Piney Branch Road just south of the Takoma Metro station, we support Tanya Topolewski.

Topolewski is “a strong supporter of development at Metro stations, including Takoma’s.” In particular, we really liked her thoughts about the controversial elements of this redevelopment plan, namely that parking should be limited and that rather than get upset about height, neighbors should instead focus on “how any building works on the ground level,” encouraging walkable spaces and retail.

She has grand visions for increased development along Georgia Avenue, saying “it’s time to make sure that it becomes a place people want to be with great urban design emphasizing welcoming sidewalk space,” something she has thought a lot about while serving on ANC 4B’s Design Review Committee. She supports the dog park in the area and sees many opportunities for growth throughout the neighborhood within existing zoning.

Another write-in candidate responded to our survey for this ANC: Jaime Willis. We liked a lot of what Willis had to say, and it’s great that this district has so many informed and positive neighbors who want to get involved in their ANC! In the end, we endorsed Topolewski based on her experience and in-depth responses.

Want to read the responses of all of the write-in candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF here. You can also see the responses and our endorsements for all 8 wards on our 2016 ANC Endorsements Page.

A note about all of these write-in candidates: because they completed our survey long after we began to publish our endorsements (with the exceptions of Eve Zhurbinskiy and Nicole Cacozza, who submitted in early September), candidates had the opportunity to review our analyses before submitting their responses. While they had that advantage, we do believe our endorsed candidates would make for great commissioners and deserve your write-in vote.

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 recommended endorsements to our volunteer editorial board, which then made the final decision.