Why ANC Races Matter: Vote Tuesday

by Borderstan.com November 1, 2010 at 12:10 am 3,524 0


Top row, from left: Tucker Gallagher, Deborah Thomas and Mike Benardo. Center row, from left: Sunit Talapatra, William Girardo and Peter Raia. Bottom row, from left: Ramon Estrada, Kate McMahon and Aaron Spencer. (Luis Gomez Photos)

For most states, November 2 will be one of the most contentious election days in recent memory. Here in DC, though, Election Day tends to be viewed as just another day, with few races that are contested. DC certainly is a one-party city, with registered Democrats constituting about 74% of all voters, and the primaries are the election where winners are usually decided.

But, here’s why you should pay attention, vote and buck the D.C. Election Day malaise: the elected offices that determine the future of your neighborhood are in play. Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats are critically important to the development of businesses, residential areas and cultural spots near your homes. (Check out Lydia DePillis’ post today over at the City Paper’s Housing Complex Blog: Building a Better ANC.)

It’s true that ANCs do not have legal authority to regulate or pass binding laws. Instead, they have the role of advising DC’s government agencies and regulatory bodies on issues related to their respective areas and neighborhoods. Hence the name, Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

For example, if a restaurant wants to get a liquor license there is a process the owners must follow to get the license–including going to the ANC. Want a zoning variance to build out the back of your house? You need to see your ANC, which can support or oppose a request by resolution.

In addition, individual ANC commissioners can be of great help if you have a problem with city services, or an issue in your area that needs attention. The amount of time that ANC commissioners devote to constituent services depends on the commissioner. These are, after all, unpaid positions.

Commissioners are elected every two years from single-member districts (SMD). These are non-partisan positions meaning ANC candidates were not on the Sept. 14 primary ballot. Instead the names of all commissioner candidates are on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

While many seats are uncontested (unfortunately), there are four contested races in the the three ANCs covering the Dupont-Logan-U Street area: 1B02, 1B04, 2B09 and 2F06.

Candidate Interviews and Endorsements

Borderstan had interviews with all the candidates running in four contested ANC races in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area; the links to the nine interviews are below.

We are not making endorsements in these races, but we may in the next election cycle. However, Greater Greater Washington has made endorsements in all four races:

In addition, ANC 1B05 Commissioner Brianne Nadeau has made some endorsements in contested ANC 1B races; Nadeau is not running for another term .

ANC 1B02

This district is located in the heart of U Street area. Tucker Gallagher and Aaron Spencer are running against incumbent Peter Raia, who was elected in 2008. The DC Citizen Atlas has information and a map about 1B02.

ANC 1B04

This district is located toward the western end of the U Street area. William Girardo is challenging incumbent Deborah Thomas; she was first elected in 2000. The DC Citizen Atlas has information and a map about 1B04.

ANC 2B09

This district is in both the Dupont and U Street neighborhoods, and the only one in ANC 2B/Dupont that runs to 14th Street NW. Four-term incumbent Ramon Estrada is being challenged by Sunit Talapatra. Check the DC Citizen Atlas for more information and a map.

ANC 2F06

This district is on the east side of Logan Circle, running north to south from S to H Street NW. One-term incumbent Mike Benardo is being challenged by Kate McMahon. The DC Citizen Atlas has more information about 2F06 and a map.

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