From Michelle Lancaster
Borderstan is covering four contested Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) races in the three local ANCs: ANC 1B02, 1B04, 2B09 and 2F06. The general election is Nov. 2.
Today’s interview is with Sunit Talapatra who is taking on four-term incumbent Ramon Estrada in ANC 2B09. Borderstan will run Estrada’s interview on Monday, Oct. 25.
ANC 2B09 is the northeastern panhandle district of ANC 2B, running from New Hampshire Ave. NW eastward to 14th St. along U St. with the southern boundary being S St. for most of the way (see map below the fold). It is the only district in 2B that borders on 14th Street. You can learn more about the district at DC Citizen Atlas. ANC 2B covers most of the Dupont Circle neighborhood and has nine commissioners.
ANC commissioners are elected from Single Member Districts (SMDs) in the city’s 37 ANCs. While the number of commissioners in each ANC varies, each SMD has approximately 2,000 residents. (See links to related posts at bottom.)
Borderstan: Please provide your name, age and a brief biography, including number of years residing in DC and ANC district.
Talapatra: Sunit Talapatra, age 37. I’ve lived only in this neighborhood since moving to DC over eight years ago–first at the 1400 block of Church Street and now, for nearly two years, at the 1400 block of Swann Street in SMD09. I’m invested in our neighborhood: my wife and I are raising two young children here, just doors off of 14th Street. I’m an attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, working mostly on biotechnology and pharmaceutical patent law.
Borderstan: How – and how often – would you reach out to constituents, both residential and business?
Talapatra: Sadly, our ANC single-member district (SMD) has gone without SMD meetings for years, and the incumbent’s online presence went dormant after the last election. I’ll change that by holding SMD meetings every month, where residents and businesses can bring any concern. I’ll also email a monthly newsletter, post all my votes from ANC meetings online, and send email surveys on the most contentious neighborhood issues–and I’ll take that feedback directly into important city processes.
Borderstan: What do you see as the most important three functions of an ANC commissioner, in order of priority?
Talapatra: (1) Communication: Without a two-way conversation between residents and commissioner, residents’ voices are muted and the commissioner’s role blunted. (2) Transparency: It is important that the residents understand, and are aware of, what the ANC can do for them. Transparency and communication also ease tensions and foster community. (3) Advocacy: Advocacy for the entire 2B09 district before various D.C. agencies, mayor’s office and Council, so that our single member district receives the attention it deserves.
Borderstan: What is your vision for the 14th & U St. corridor?
Talapatra: My personal vision will take a backseat to the vision of the residents themselves. ANCs shouldn’t push personal advocacy, but advocate the sentiment of the whole SMD. That said, I envision a new bohemian and diverse 14th & U for everyone, from artists to professionals. Businesses complement that make-up, with eateries, boutiques & quality nightlife. Infrastructure ideally would include wide sidewalks, parks, and other grounds where residents can hold gatherings (e.g., markets), mingle and meet.
Borderstan: Who are the three owners of three local businesses in your district (or the entire ANC) that you turn to for advice on business-related issues?
Talapatra: I currently have met and know the owners (or managers) of several of our great local businesses (e.g., Flow Yoga Center, Thai Tanic, Point Chaud, Policy and more). Unfortunately, most of them aren’t in our SMD. With new developments slated for our section of 14th Street, we’ll have new ground-level retail spaces opening. I’ll work with developers to attract quality retail, and once they’re selected, I’ll go on a listening tour with each of them.
Borderstan: What is the most important thing voters should know about you prior to the election?
Talapatra: Like them, I’m interested in how upcoming changes will play out for our neighborhood–a new Mayor, new development, and more. We’ll need a strong, connected voice on the ANC. My opponent’s been in office 8 years, attended almost 100 ANC meetings, cast countless votes, and took positions into city agencies. Yet some of our most active neighbors have never heard what those votes, issues and positions were. I’ll be a strong, connected voice for everyone.
ANC Candidate Interview Series
- Know a Candidate: Deborah Thomas, ANC 1B04 (Oct. 20, 2010)
- Know a Candidate: Tucker Gallagher, ANC 1B02 (Oct. 19, 2010)