The following interview with Andrew Huff is the first of a new series of interviews with Borderstan people. Huff is communications director for Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and a former representative in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations.
Borderstan: How long have you lived in Borderstan and how did you end up in the hood?
Huff: My wife and I, and our two cats, have lived in the Logan area for the past two years. Before that, we lived in Dupont for several years.
Borderstan: What do you like most about living in Logan Circle?
Huff: What isn’t there to like? The neighborhood is diverse and active, people speak to each other, and you just can’t beat the location. We constantly remind ourselves how lucky we are that we can walk 15 minutes to a national sporting event or concert, some of the region’s greatest restaurants, and the nation’s greatest monuments and memorials. Having the Wilson building just down the street makes for a heavenly commute as well.
Borderstan: Tell us about your current job with Jack Evans. What is it like working for a DC Council member–the pace, the hours, etc.?
Huff: I have served as Councilmember Evans’ director of communications since January. I’m responsible for all things press and media related, as well as communicating our message through various outlets and sources. In addition to my press and communications duties, I cover Dupont and Downtown on the constituent services front. I also serve as Evans’ liaison to DCRA and the DMV. Being on the legislative side of things has proven very interesting and is brand new for me. The office is fast paced, especially during budget season as Jack is chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.
Borderstan: As communications director for Evans, you have to keep current on city and Ward 2 news. What do you read/follow?
Huff: In addition to the regulars like the Post, Times, Examiner, Business Journal, and City Paper, I closely follow two dozen blogs and about a dozen list serves. I do my best to keep my finger on the pulse of neighborhood sentiment regarding issues that effect not only Ward 2, but the entire District. Information flows so freely and quickly these days that most major issues hit the blogs or list serves early on, which gives us a chance to address them.
Borderstan: Your previous position in the DC Government was as a Ward 2 representative in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations (MOCR). How did you come to that job?
Huff: After completing my Masters at American University, I accepted a Fellowship with the District government in the Capital City Fellows program. This two-year program gives Fellows the opportunity to work at 4 different District agencies for 6 months at a time. I had the chance to work at the Office of Property Management (now the Department of Real Estate Services), the District Department of Transportation, and the Metropolitan Police Department. My time with Assistant Chief Diane Groomes at MPD was definitely the highlight of my Fellows experience and allowed me an up close look at a major police department. Toward the end of the program, I found out about a position in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services as a Ward 2 coordinator. I spent about a year there.
Borderstan: How did you get involved with work in the municipal government realm? You worked in Burlington, Vermont, didn’t you?
Huff: I was led to public service through the AmeriCorps*VISTA program. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is anti-poverty program and part of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. After finishing up undergrad at James Madison University in Virginia, I packed up my life and moved up to Burlington and began my three years of national service with VISTA. I worked on a variety of projects in Vermont’s poorest neighborhoods. The program was sponsored by the City of Burlington, my office was in City Hall and I found myself surrounded by politics. Vermont is known for its very active citizenry and progressive style of governance, so I got hooked pretty quickly. I also realized at that time that local government was really where the “rubber meets the road.” I learned then that democracy in its truest form exists at the local level. I knew then there was no turning back!
Borderstan: Have you worked on political campaigns?
Huff: Not until I moved to Burlington did I get involved in political campaigning. I worked on city council campaigns and served as campaign manager for then Mayor Peter Clavelle’s re-election–we won. I also did some campaigning for U.S. Representative (now Senator) Bernie Sanders. Campaigns are tough work, but when you win, it is a feeling that is hard to replicate.
Borderstan: Where did you grow up and go to college? What was your major?
Huff: I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, in Front Royal, Virginia. I studied Media Arts and Design at James Madison University in Harrisonburg and later received a Master’s in Public Administration from American University’s School of Public Affairs.