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Know a Candidate: Sunit Talapatra, ANC 2B09

by Borderstan.com October 21, 2010 at 5:00 am 1,930 3 Comments

ANC 2B09, Dupont Circle, Sunit Talapatra

Sunit Talapatra, candidate for ANC 2B09. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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.

ANC 2B09 Sunit Talapatra

ANC 2B09 is in the northeastern corner of the ANC, straddling the Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods. (DC Citizen Atlas)


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

Related Posts on ANCs

  • Sam

    Prediction: Estrada will pull out a narrow win. A lot of people in the district won’t publicly say they support Estrada’s actions, but secretly they’re big fat NIMBYs who want to live in the suburbs. Hope I’m wrong. I thought Doug Rogers would beat Estrada last time, but Estrada won fairly easily. There is a reason he has won four times already.

    • dupont circle east resident

      Gosh, I hope you are wrong about your prediction.

      Ramon Estrada has been bad for development in the neighborhood. Despite his claims (on his blog: http://ramonestradaanc2b09.blogspot.com) that he has been “encouraging restaurants like JoJo’s, Policy, Chidogo, Local 14 and DC Noodles,” I would say that these few restaurants are exceptions that have managed to survive Estrada’s delay tactics and abuse of the ABC licensing process and actually get open (or perhaps it is just evidence that these businesses had deep enough pockets to wait Estrada out in the licensing process).

      The same goes for his claim that he “shap[ed] residential developments like Utopia and Whitman Walker projects with over 400 apartments.” What this really means to me is that the projects were held up by ANC red tape. Hopefully the projects will still move forward, because I think 14th Street will be a better place with mixed use residential housing rather with empty parking lots and derelict dry cleaning shops.

      I do give Ramon credit for his claim that he “preserv[ed] the historic house at the corner of 16th and T.” He did a good job there and I’m glad it was not demolished due to the neglect of the owners. But this is also a good example of what Ramon fights for–he fights to make sure that nothing in the neighborhood changes. Sometimes that’s good, but I think more often, he fights changes that would be beneficial for the neighborhood.

      I cannot fault Ramon for doing what he thinks is right for the community. He is clearly deeply committed to his work. And he has proven to be very effective at stopping or slowing forward progress and fighting for the status quo.

      I just hope that more folks who live in the neighborhood realize that their ANC commissioner is putting the brakes on so many new commercial developments in the neighborhood, driving up costs and likely creating an environment in which small business simply can’t afford to operate in.

  • Realisticly, how will Talapatra reach out to all residents in his SMD to announce monthly meetings? Internet only doesn’t cut the mustard; print is prohibitively expensive; replacing walking shoes can also be expensive.


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