Dupont Circle Fountain, a landmark in ANC 2B. Image by AgnosticPreachersKid licensed under Creative Commons.

When tourists visit DC, they spend most of their time in Ward 2 — it’s home to Georgetown, Dupont and Logan Circles, downtown, and the Mall. But for those of you who call these places home, this November you have a number of candidates to choose between for local office. This year there are nine competitive Advisory Neighborhood Commission races in this ward, and we are endorsing in four.

These are our Ward 2 endorsements

What are ANCs, and why should I care?

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or ANCs, are neighborhood councils of unpaid, elected representatives who meet monthly to weigh in with the District government about issues that are important to their community. ANCs play a very important role in housing and transportation decisions.

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 forward-thinking ANCs offer the government valuable 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 each. Races often hinge on a small handful of votes. Your vote — every vote — really counts.

Here are our endorsements

In Ward 2 there are six ANCs: 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F. Altogether, those ANCs encompass 38 Single Member Districts (SMDs). This fall, 28 of those SMDs have only one candidate running, so we did not analyze those races. There is one technically vacant seat this year, 2A08, but as we’ve written about before, this is a technicality and we hope to hear from candidates here soon.

In the remaining nine competitive races, GGWash is endorsing four candidates. This year, we received completed questionnaires from 22 Ward 2 candidates (some in contested races, others in uncontested races). You can read everyone’s positions and responses here.

Not sure which SMD you live in? It’s easy to find in our interactive ANC Voter Guide! Simply search your address to find your ANC/SMD, compare your candidates’ responses to our questionnaire side by side, and take a look at our ultimate endorsements.

 

GGWash 2018 ANC Voter Guide

Map of Ward 2 ANCs and SMDs. Image by Office of ANCs.

In ANC 2B, we endorse Aaron Landry and Daniel Warwick

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.

Many of these neighborhoods are within a historic district, so a key question for neighborhood leaders is how to balance the needs historic preservation with the needs of a growing city and neighborhood. The ANC here is also weighing in on an exciting new project that would create a park over Connecticut Avenue NW just north of Dupont Circle. Finally, we asked candidates about dockless bikes and scooters and how they would be approach the opportunities and challenges these present.

On the eastern edge of the ANC between 17th and 15th streets NW, the small district 2B04 is contested this year. In this race, we enthusiastically endorse Aaron Landry. Landry writes eloquently about what inclusive urbanism looks like for him:

“inclusivity and diversity are cornerstones of Dupont Circle… Zoning and licensing decisions can make the neighborhood more expensive and exclusive, and encourage further displacement. While preservation of historic structures is very important for maintaining the character of Dupont Circle, it need not preclude opportunities to upzone existing housing and to permit development in the little unused non-public space we have to increase overall housing availability. Density has been a hallmark of Dupont Circle since the incorporation of the neighborhood… height and density are consistent with the historic fabric of the area.”

Landry’s answers to our questionnaire are passionate, thoughtful, and reveal a deep level of analysis. For example, when writing about bike infrastructure he cites that “more than 50 percent of Dupont Circle households do not own a car and the amount of people who bike to work has doubled this decade. However, only 12 percent of transportation space is used for sidewalks and just 1.2 percent is used for bike lanes. This is simply wrong, and it is dangerous. We are oversaturating our sidewalks, creating dangerous streets, and being inefficient with our available transportation space.” Sounds like we need to get Landry writing more for the blog!

Incumbent Nick Delledone also returned our questionnaire. Some of Delledone's responses sound good, but are the kind of answers that aren't meaningful without specifics or actions to back them up. For example, he writes that historic preservation “does not preclude change and we have an obligation to work toward an integrated community, racially and economically.” However, Delledone was a principle opponent to GGWash's priorities and amendments for the Comprehensive Plan, which included, among other things, changes that would cement fair housing principles into the city’s land use guidance.

What is more, during his two years in office, Delledone has built a reputation among many urbanists in the area as being reactionary, combative, and hard to work with. He has attacked fellow commissioners on public email lists and on twitter numerous times and has often sent out bombastic press releases, which sowed divisiveness. This has created a toxic environment around Delledone in the ANC, as seen here where he berates fellow commissioners because they canceled an ANC meeting that fell on a Jewish holiday.

Delledone has been an obstruction to adding protected bike lanes on 17th Street NW. After initially supporting the study of the project in 2017, at the design stage in 2018 Delledone changed his stance and worked to agitate resistance to the idea among businesses along the corridor. Later, rather than working to find a compromise and solution, he suggested many unworkable alternatives. For us, Landry is the clear choice here.

Just north and west of Dupont Circle is 2B02. Here incumbent and current chair Daniel Warwick will appear unopposed on the ballot this fall, but we’ve confirmed he will face write-in candidate Annette Stock so we have decided to declare an endorsement here. We’re glad to have the opportunity to support Warwick. He has been an essential part of GGWash’s community for years. He's written blog posts, volunteered on our advocacy committee, and has been a leader within our Greater Greater ANCs initiative, which gives commissioners from across the city opportunities to organize and educate themselves.

Warwick’s urbanist credentials shine through in his answers to our questionnaire. When asked about Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ floated proposal to ban dockless scooters and bikes on sidewalks, Warwick writes:

“Banning cyclists and scooters from riding on sidewalks in Ward 2 is a ridiculous notion until we have protected cycle tracks [on] every arterial in Ward 2. Until then the conversation is premature. Dockless is great and we should increase the numbers of dockless bikes and scooters to meet demand for their usage.”

Warwick shares his experience supporting “projects involving family-sized housing and reasonable ways to increase density in the neighborhood on a project-basis,” and he is “fully supportive of removing on-street parking when it will improve traffic flow and mobility.” Though Stock reached out to confirm her candidacy, we did not receive a questionnaire from her before our deadline. We feel confident in our endorsement of Warwick, and we urge the GGWash community to turn out in support of one of our own!

There is one other competitive race in 2B: 2B03. Candidates Lucky Barbieri and Vincett Slatt are competing for an open seat, but we aren’t making an endorsement in this race. Slatt did not return our questionnaire, and Barbieri’s answers were interesting, but we weren’t convinced of his urbanist bona fides or effectiveness as a commissioner. In some cases, Barbieri didn’t directly answer our questions, and in others… he certainly had some creative ideas! For example, when asked about removing parking for transit improvements, he writes that “reducing the amounts of parking spots would make parking a nuisance for residents, so I believe that we may be able to use the technology of rotary carousel-style parking structures to reduce the need for public parking.”

While we applaud the creative search for solutions, this kind of proposal doesn’t seem very feasible or grounded in the realities of the neighborhood. We aren’t making a recommendation here.

Dupont. Image by pablo.raw used with permission.

In ANC 2C, we endorse Michael Shankle

The section of Downtown DC east of the White House makes up most of ANC 2C. An area that historically has hosted mostly office and commercial buildings, it will be very interesting to watch how this ANC reacts as more and more homes come online, bringing new neighbors and new priorities. A good example of this was the recent legislation to place stringent fines and regulations on amplified noise downtown; we asked candidates what their stance is on the issue. We also asked candidates to talk about dockless bikes and scooters, the proposal for the streetcar extension, and what their goals are for the eventual redevelopment of the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

There is only one competitive race this fall in this ANC. For ANC 2C01 we endorse newcomer Michael Shankle over incumbent John Tinpe. Shankle writes that “as a resident adjacent to Gallery Place, I understand and sympathize with the frustrations of my neighbors [about amplified noise].” However he feels that the proposed legislation is “vindictive against street performers, which have a rich history in the neighborhood” and wants “a more sensible and holistic approach.” He is pro-bus lanes downtown, but waffles when it comes to remove parking for them. However, Shankle is clearly wary of “narrow interests and NIMBY reactions [that] can be detrimental to the overall health of the community and city at-large.” Overall, he seems like a promising candidate.

Tinpe unfortunately did not write much in his responses to our questionnaire, and did not often take clear stances on our issues. For example, on the proposed amplified noise act, he writes that “given proper rules and boundaries are set and followed, all can coexist harmoniously. Otherwise, we have the opposite of peace and harmony.” Given these kinds of underdeveloped answers, we were unable to better understand Tinpe’s positions on too many issues, and thus were won over by Shankle.

FBI Building at night. Image by Randall Myers licensed under Creative Commons.

In ANC 2A and 2D, we aren’t endorsing anyone

Both of these ANCs only have one contested race each, and in those we aren’t recommending anyone. ANC 2A covers Foggy Bottom, George Washington University, and the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2A04 (the neighborhoods surrounding the Kennedy Center) incumbent William Kennedy Smith is facing a challenge from Elena Son. Based on his past four years on the ANC and his answers to our questionnaire, William Smith is a pro-urbanist commissioner. For example, he wants to “encourage adaptive reuse of office space to residential units” as “one way to increase affordable housing” in his neighborhood, and during his term he has been helpful when it comes to supporting important initiatives like the new bike lanes in the area. Elena Son did not complete our questionnaire, but readers have shared that she does not agree with many urbanist values. However, we recognize that Smith has been accused of sexual misconduct in the past, and therefore we are leaving it to voters to decide for themselves in this race.

ANC 2D lies further north and is the ANC with the smallest number of commissioners in DC: only two. This area is full of embassies (which aren’t homes with voters in them) along Massachusetts Avenue NW and the eastern edge of Kalorama, as well as big expensive single family homes. This is where notables like the Obamas, Bezos, Ivanka, and Jared live.

The southern edge of this area, 2D02, is contested by two newcomers: Rick Guinee and Jeff Nestler. Nestler did not return our questionnaire, and we weren’t excited about many of Guinee’s answers. He generally seems defensive about dockless bikes and scooters, does not like the idea of adding bike or bus infrastructure if it means losing parking, and says he got involved in local issues to focus on the “preservation of the residential character of our neighborhood in the face of attacks on it.” Sorry Bezos — we can’t help you out with your decision here. However, if you want some advice about Amazon HQ2, we’re happy to take your call.

Home in Kalorama. Image by Joe Flood licensed under Creative Commons.

In ANC 2E, we couldn’t decide on a clear endorsement

ANC 2E is Georgetown and the neighborhoods directly north of it, home to some very delicious cupcakes (Which are you? Team Georgetown Cupcake, or Team Baked & Wired?). How to accommodate a growing DC in Georgetown is a particularly prevalent issue, and we asked candidates about their views on accessory dwelling units as one way to address this. In addition, the neighborhood of Burleith has been discussing whether or not it wants to become DC’s newest historic district, and we wanted to hear candidate views on things like dockless bikes and scooters and the (maybe long-way-off) expansion of the streetcar.

The first contested race here is Burleith’s SMD: 2E01. We faced a tough call here, as both candidates are strong, and ultimately we couldn’t decide on a clear winner for our endorsement.

Kishan Putta is running against incumbent Ed Solomon. Putta is a name well familiar to transit advocates and urbanists across the city. He is a passionate and tireless advocate, and was an essential force in the campaign for bus lanes on 16th Street NW when he lived and served as a commissioner near Dupont Circle. In his own words, he has “long supported new transit options for residents and I will continue to do so if elected again.” We liked his nuanced answer to the historic designation discussion in Burleith. He writes that he “loved the old history of Dupont Circle and the architecture,” but that he “also saw how much trouble homeowners were having,” which led to his eventual vote against the designation in a recent neighborhood poll (where 76% of the respondents ended up saying no to the proposed district).

Solomon also appears to be a good candidate here. He had a great response on dockless bikes and scooters, saying that “mingling bikes and scooters with pedestrians on sidewalks is a safety concern. I understand riders feel safer on a sidewalk if the street presents a hazard. Installing more bike lanes would help.” He backs up that support with a clear example from his tenure where he “supported [the] removal of approximate 42 parking spaces on K and Water Streets to install a protected bike lane.” Solomon seems like an experienced, reasonable commissioner who is good on key urbanist issues.

Urbanists voters here face a tough choice, as we did. Putta is clearly one of us, and he’s proven that all across the city with his activism and successes. Solomon, however, looks like a solid incumbent. We encourage voters to look carefully at both candidates’ responses and records and support who you think is best.

2E06 is also contested this fall, on the eastern edge of the neighborhood around Dumbarton Street NW. Out of the two candidates here, only the incumbent Jim Wilcox returned our questionnaire. We found his answers to be relatively short and simple, and in many cases he tended to side-step questions. As an example, he writes that he is “generally reluctant to eliminate on-street parking but would consider doing so on a case by case basis” if a bike or bus improvement came up. He also would not take a side on the historic district discussion. While he seems like a reasonable commissioner, without a clearer idea of Wilcox’s priorities and no answer from challenger Gwendolyn Lohse, we aren’t making an endorsement in this race.

Georgetown. Image by Brian Allen used with permission.

In ANC 2F, we endorse Kevin Wenzel

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. Neighbors here are discussing how to make Logan Circle safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and are also considering putting together a local business improvement district. In addition, how to best handle and support dockless bikes and scooters is also an issue for these areas.

All the way to the south of the ANC is 2F08, between I and M streets NW and 11th and 14th Streets NW. In this race, we endorse Kevin Wenzel over Janice Ferbee. Based on his answers to our questionnaire, Wenzel seems to be experienced and thoughtful. He writes that “development works best when it is in partnership with the community, and I believe it is possible for Logan Circle to be a growing community that welcomes new neighbors while also preserving the character that makes it so special.” Wenzel does dodge the parking vs bike/bus improvements question a bit, but discusses clear Vision Zero priorities for his neighborhood.

Ferbee, on the other hand, seems fairly reactionary and defensive in her answers. When writing about dockless bikes and scooters, she’s in all caps: “NO ONE PAYS ATTENTION TO THAT BIKE LAW * IT IS NOT ENFORCED * THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES!” She, like Wenzel, dodges the parking trade-off question, saying that she would want “to know what ways there were to compromise. There are already far too few on-street parking spots, and this type of construction would also be a time-consuming headache.” Given the two choices here, we are for Wenzel.

Logan Circle. Image by Ian Livingston used with permission.

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 explore our ANC Voter Guide, which allows you to compare candidates in your neighborhood side-by-side. Over the next few weeks, our endorsements for competitive 2018 ANC races will be updated regularly at our ANC Endorsements Page as we continue publish our detailed rationale for each decision in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

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. Our volunteer elections committee then evaluated all candidate responses and feedback for contested races and with staff came to our final decisions.