Petworth. Image by Payton Chung licensed under Creative Commons.

A series of hilly neighborhoods at the top of the District comprise Ward 4. Residents here are from Petworth, Shepherd Park, Brightwood, 16th Street Heights, and Takoma, among other places. We found six candidates running in contested Ward 4 races for Advisory Neighborhood Commission to endorse, and we hope you go vote for them.

These are our Ward 4 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 4 there are four ANCs: 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D (there is also one ANC that straddles Wards 3 and 4: ANC 3/4G, but we already wrote about that ANC in our Ward 3 endorsements post. Altogether, those ANCs encompass 33 Single Member Districts (SMDs). This fall, 16 of those SMDs have only one candidate running, so we did not analyze those races. There are also four vacant seats in Ward 4 with no candidates running: 4A07, 4B05, 4B06, and 4C04 (though we know of some write-ins we plan to analyze soon).

In the remaining 13 competitive races, GGWash is endorsing six candidates. This year, we received completed questionnaires from 27 Ward 4 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

Ward 4 ANCs and SMDs. Image by Office of ANCs.

In ANC 4A, we endorse Patience Singleton

ANC 4A is a long, narrow area that runs along 16th Street from the top corner of DC to Piney Branch Parkway. It’s a place with a mix of churches, single family homes, parkland, and some apartment buildings. It also has a lot of people pass through as they commute down 16th Street from Maryland.

Transportation and the heavy commuter traffic are primary concerns for many neighbors here. Better bus service and bike options, both along 16th Street and nearby 14th Street, could make a huge difference in the area, but some proposed changes (for example, dedicated bus lanes) could require residents to sacrifice some on-street parking.

In terms of development, the Walter Reed redevelopment is now underway and there also has been controversy around a site on Eastern Avenue.

One candidate in this area earned our endorsement: incumbent Patience Singleton. We endorsed Singleton in 2016, and are sticking with her again this year. She is the incumbent in 4A04, a small district on the eastern border of the ANC between Van Buren and Rittenhouse Streets.

Singleton is optimistic about the future of Walter Reed, saying that she hopes “it not only spurs further development along Georgia Avenue but also serves as a vibrant hub for community gatherings and engagement.” She also writes that “it is my desire that the affordable housing for seniors and market rate condos and apartments slated for the campus will provide opportunities for long-time residents to remain in Ward 4, which currently has a high percentage of elderly neighbors, as well as attract new residents.”

Singleton promises to stand up to NIMBYism if she faces it, saying that “as ANC commissioners, we take an oath to ‘consider each matter before me from the viewpoint of the best interest of the District of Columbia as a whole.’ As a consequence, I have always factored in the impact of my advocacy on the entire community even though the opinions and needs of my constituents are paramount.”

She is a bit cautious about parking, and tends to write a lot about traffic concerns in general. However, even when asked if she would sacrifice street parking for bus or bike improvements she gives a positive answer: “given the high density within certain parts of my SMD, lack of close proximity to a metro station, and shortage of available parking in the evenings, I would only support removing certain parking spaces along 14th Street in my SMD during day time hours.” We didn’t receive a response from challenger Jasmine Byrd this year, but given Singleton’s track record and her well-written answers this year, we are confident in re-upping our endorsement.

There are two other competitive races in 4A this year, 4A01 and 4A02. We received responses from both candidates in 4A02, but couldn’t quite settle on an endorsement there. Incumbent Stacey Lincoln had some decent answers, but also had some answers we didn’t know what to think about. For example, when asked about the Target site he wrote: “My hope for the future Target is that it will be a necessary addition to the city and community. My concern is that more people outside of the District will be employed there. Additionally, I'm concerned about the increase in traffic and potential crime element that may result.”

Lincoln is facing off against challenger Iris Parks, and some of her answers were fine also, but she also didn’t take many specific positions on our issues. Overall, nobody came out ahead as a clear winner of our endorsement.

In 4A01, we only received a questionnaire from challenger Douglas Sloan, who’s running against the incumbent Phyllis Green. Sloan’s answers were a bit of mixed bag on urbanist issues. He seems open to adding “apartment buildings, duplexes or semi-detached units” to his neighborhood, especially if they included some affordable housing. However, he writes, “I am not in favor of removing on-­‐street parking designated for neighborhood residents for vehicular traffic or bike lanes. I feel it disturbs the quality of life for neighborhood residents.” Ultimately, without more information on Green we didn’t feel confident making an endorsement here.

16th Street Heights. Image by las.photographs licensed under Creative Commons.

In ANC 4B, we endorse Evan Yeats, Erin Palmer, and Geoff Bromaghim

To the east lies ANC 4B, a triangle formed by the DC/Maryland border to the east, Missouri Avenue and Riggs Road to the south, and Georgia Avenue to the west.

One long-standing and key issue for these neighborhoods has been the redevelopment saga at the Takoma Metro station. After years of back and forth, some still are pushing to preserve the under-used parking lots there rather than build housing or encourage more neighborhood retail. The area is also partly in a historic district, so how to adequately contribute to the city’s need for new homes and new affordable homes is a core development debate.

Last year, nearly all of the races in 4B were contested, and this year it similarly is a hotly contested ANC. Luckily, we found three candidates that clearly deserved our endorsement and hopefully your vote.

The first is Evan Yeats in 4B01, the northern tip of the ANC. We really liked a lot of Evan’s takes on our issues, and he seems to have a clear view of the big picture that is healthy and positive. On the area’s historic district, he writes: “It’s always a challenge to balance the needs of growth with desire for historic preservation and both are worthy goals. We can’t allow it to be used as a way to push less- desirable or less-well-thought-out development onto certain parts of our neighborhood.” On the community’s need for action on Vision Zero: “For far too long, 4B01’s roads were designed to move out of state commuters rather than meet the needs of the neighbors that live here, which has not been good for our community.”

Yeats makes a strong commitment to affordable housing and supports plans for the Takoma Metro development. He looks like a strong, clear-headed candidate.

The incumbent, Andre Carley, also completed our questionnaire, and his responses were mixed. Carley has “serious reservations on the development of the Takoma Metro parking lot. The area around the Metro station is already densely developed. Do we really need another multi-unit building there?”

On the other hand, Carley advocates for bike lanes on Georgia Avenue and elsewhere. He had several reasonable answers to our questionnaire. One section captures his approach well; when asked about development within the historic district, he says “I feel the old saying: ‘Moderation is the Key’ applies to this issue. I don’t consider all developers as spawn of the devil incarnate, nor am I a supporter of static growth. All dynamic systems must evolve or die. A neighborhood is no different.”

In the end, Yeats seems like a candidate that is much more willing to push hard on key urbanist issues in his neighborhood, and that’s why he won our endorsement.

Takoma Metro station. Image by RealVirginian licensed under Creative Commons.

Immediately south is 4B02, and here we endorse Erin Palmer over incumbent Tanya Topolewski. Palmer offers thoughtful, detailed responses. She is a strong advocate of density around transit, and as a “lifelong non-driver who is intimately familiar with the challenges of getting around DC” she will a strong advocate for improvements for transit users and pedestrians. About the Takoma Metro station development she says, “creating additional housing options for families and more affordable units by Metro addresses our city’s growing housing needs while increasing equitable access to public transportation and reducing congestion and pollution.”

Palmer wants to take a data-driven approach to contentious issues like removing parking for bus or bike improvements. She seems supportive of these kinds of changes, but also recognizes the backlash they can engender. Overall, Palmer clearly has thought a lot about these issues, is principled and willing to stick her neck out for what she thinks is right, but is also very focused on having “honest discussions” with neighbors and building consensus.

Incumbent Topolewski was much less supportive of the plans at Takoma Park metro and has “many concerns about the development of this site.” She is clearly supportive of many urbanist issues, however. For example she was a supporter of the 59 bus, and writes that “that one change is not enough. I would advocate for more bus options from our growing area,” including a shuttle from the Takoma Park metro station to Walter Reed. Topolewski has also been a proven ally on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT): “It has been a goal of mine as Commissioner to complete the MBT.”

Honestly, Topolewski is a good candidate (we certainly thought so in 2016). But 4B has had many internal struggles on the ANC these last few years, something Topolewski discusses in her questionnaire and seems fairly involved in. She even spends one section of her questionnaire outlining her grievances with her colleagues. Both Palmer and Topolewski look good on many of our core issues, but we’re excited about the opportunity Palmer brings to help ease some tensions on the ANC.

The final candidate to earn our endorsement in 4B is Geoff Bromaghim in the race for 4B07, along the DC/Maryland border. Bromaghim doesn’t have an expansive urbanist vision for the Takoma Park metro, but does say, “I don’t believe the highest and best use of that real estate will be to remain a paved lot in perpetuity.” He writes that “as a daily bus and metro rider,” bus and bike transit improvements are “something I’m deeply passionate about” (though he falls short of explicitly committing to sacrificing parking for such improvements).

Bromaghim is committed to helping complete the Metropolitan Branch Trail, and says he’ll be a consensus builder, something he says has been difficult at times in his SMD. It seems like he’s off to some sort of start, as nearly a dozen supporters wrote in in support of his candidacy.

Bromaghim is facing two challengers. The incumbent Judi Jones did not complete our questionnaire, and Alice Gordon only wrote a few sentences per question and didn’t seem strong on our issues. We hope voters here give Geoff a chance on the ANC.

There are two other competitive races in 4B. In 4B08, Alison Brooks and James Thomas are competing for an open seat. Brooks had generally positive answers, but he didn’t take many firm positions or give a lot of specific ideas. Thomas similarly has fairly general answers. Overall, we really couldn’t get a firm sense of either candidate so are leaving it up to voters to decide here.

In 4B09 we only received a response from one candidate, incumbent Tischa Cockrell. Unfortunately Cockrell was unwilling to take many firm positions. For example on the Takoma Metro site, she writes, “I am open and willing to work with that SMD ANC and their constituents with whatever their hopes and concerns are for the redevelopment.” Without any information from her opponent, we aren’t making any call in this race either.

Petworth. Image by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons.

In ANC 4C, we endorse Charlotte Nugent and Kim Varzi

If you live in Petworth or 16th Street Heights, you probably live in ANC 4C. Along the border of this ANC lies the Old Hebrew Home, which recently cleared some major hurdles in its redevelopment and looks to be a truly inclusive model of new development for the neighborhood, thanks to some steering from local commissioners here.

Other issues for these neighborhoods include the safety of Grant and Sherman Circles and how to help bridge the gap between new and longtime residents in the neighborhood.

4C01 is near the intersection of Georgia and Colorado Avenues. In 2016 we supported Charlotte Nugent, and this year we again endorse her as the incumbent. Nugent’s track record in the last two years has been solid. She was a strong ally at Hebrew Home, and still “welcome[s] the chance to have our neighborhood provide our share of local affordable housing development by encouraging it along” commercial corridors. She “was proud to be part of a group of local leaders who lobbied for the new ‘59’ express bus on 14th Street, bringing a new, faster and affordable form of transit to our neighborhood.”

Nugent is also keenly aware of Vision Zero challenges and solutions, as her “neighborhood has one of the top 5 most dangerous intersections in the city—Kennedy St NW and Georgia Avenue.” She is proactive and aware, writing that businesses in her area need more customers, and thus more homes nearby: “Instead of waiting for condos and pop-ups to appear haphazardly, we should proactively encourage development – including affordable housing – in corridors like these, and in areas where zoning already allows taller buildings.” We didn’t receive a response from Salina Waddy, who is challenging Nugent, but based on her quality answers and her record in the past two years we are confident that Nugent still deserves your vote.

59 bus. Image by DDOT.

Farther south near Grant Circle in 4C07, Kim Varzi is running against Kreig Rajaram for an open seat, and we think Varzi is the stronger candidate. Varzi is willing to consider removing parking for safer bike infrastructure and offers several ideas for safety improvements in her area. She is keenly aware of the dangers to pedestrians around Grant Circle. When we asked her about her hopes and concerns for the area, she wrote: “My hopes are not to get hit by a car, my concern is that I may swear in front of my son when a car ignores the pedestrian crossing sign.” We wish she would offer a few more concrete suggestions for improvement, but altogether she seems like a good candidate.

We were less in agreement with Varzi’s opponent Rajaram. He makes his opinions pretty clear on a few of our issues. On parking: “I could not support any changes to street infrastructure that would remove parking and not adequately replace the parking spaces.” On new bike lanes: “I do not see a need for new bike lanes and sidewalks as cyclist and cars already share the road.” Finally, he goes down a dangerous route, in the minds of many urbanists, when he advocates for this position: “I believe individuals in a community have a right to determine what happens in their community even if it is at odds with greater city interest.” Yeah, we aren’t really aligned with you there. We hope Varzi is able to rally the urbanist vote in 4C07.

ANC 4C is heavily contested this year, and there are three other competitive races. Touching the southern edge of the ANC between 13th and 14th Streets NW lies 4C05, and voters here have two good options to choose from. Debbie Mattias had a few underdeveloped answers on our questionnaire but also took some strong stances. For example, she says she “fully support[s] the additional parking restrictions for improved bus service, such as those that have been implemented on 16th Street.” Her opponent, Benjamin Underwood, had better developed answers to our survey but also didn’t take many firm positions on issues. To our eye, both look pretty good, but we couldn’t quite distinguish who is best. We encourage readers to take a close look and decide for themselves.

Just northwest in 4C03 we are a little less positive. Here we only received a questionnaire from the incumbent Ulysses Campbell, but he doesn’t always align with us on some core issues. Campbell seems skeptical about removing parking to improve bus or bike infrastructure, and he is “generally not in favor” of turning single family homes into multi-unit buildings. His answers didn’t earn our endorsement, especially given we don’t know the views of his challenger.

The final contested race is in 4C09, on the eastern side of Sherman Circle. Tearsa Coates generally does not seem very aware of urbanist issues. For example, her biggest concerns for the Grant and Sherman Circles were that DDOT “maintains the mowing and adequate lighting.” She says she is “a problem solver and a consensus builder,” but as such did not present clear positions on some of our questions, which made it hard for us to understand what kind of commissioner she would be.

Coates’ opponent Steven Feingold had some decidedly more urbanist leaning views, but we weren’t fully won over. For example, he says that “The ANC should continue to support large buildings along Georgia Ave and near the Metro. Slight increases in density in more residential areas can be accomplished with condo conversions and accessory dwellings.” However, we weren’t sure what to make of his comment that he “personally would have preferred a higher percentage of market rate housing” at the Hebrew Home redevelopment. Overall he looks like a strong candidate, but we weren’t confident in an endorsement here and encourage neighbors to read closely and come to your own decisions.

Directly north of ANC 4C is 4D, including Rock Creek Cemetery and the neighborhood of Brightwood. This year, there are no competitive races in 4D, so we didn’t analyze any races there.

Hebrew Home. Image by Farragutful licensed under Creative Commons.

Want to read the responses of all of the Ward 4 ANC candidates who responded to our questionnaire and judge for yourself? Check out the full PDF for Ward 4. 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.