Meet Zahra Jilani: Candidate for ANC 1B-12

by August 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm 2,999 1 Comment

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

The deadline for filing to run for a seat on DC’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission is past, and election time is right around the corner. In the Borderstan area, there are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up for grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor.

So now, it is time to meet your candidates. Here at, we will introduce you to your neighbors who are campaigning to represent you on the local ANCs. Closer to the election, we will have follow-up interviews with the candidates on specific issues related to their areas.

Zahra Jilani is  running for ANC 1B-12. It is a new, additional district for ANC 1B. Due to a large growth in population in the U Street corridor, ANC 1B-02 was essentially split into two parts to create the new SMD 12. On November 6, Jilani will face three opponents: Erling Bailey, John Carlos Green and Dan Wittels.

"Zahra Jilani"

Zahra Jilani running for the ANC 1B-12 seat.

Borderstan: Why did you decide to run in your neighborhood’s ANC race this year? Also, have you run before and/or been an ANC commissioner before?

Jilani: I believe I can provide a strong voice to the residents of 1B-12, something incredibly important in a district with so much growth and change.  I can offer leadership, and will approach these challenges with transparency. I will emphasize open communication between residents, businesses and developers from day one, to ensure growth that benefits our community.

Borderstan: How many years have you lived in your [ANC] neighborhood? How long have you been in DC?

Jilani: I fell in love with DC after attending George Washington University. For four years I explored and observed different parts of the city, but was drawn to U Street because of its vibrancy and historic past. While working in community development abroad, I stayed closely connected to issues in the District and watched the way our area continued to thrive. I finally returned to settle in my current home in 1B-12, knowing I wanted to serve our community during this important time.

Borderstan: How are you currently involved in your community?

Jilani: I have been volunteering my time as an intern to ANC1B since February. Last month I created the inaugural publication of the ANC 1B newsletter, to foster better communication within ANC1B. I am currently working on our September edition – if you have any events or announcements that need posting, please email me at [email protected]. Communication is the key to a cohesive community, and I hope to continue open and transparent communication if elected.

Borderstan: If elected to the ANC, what will be your main areas of focus/concern?

Jilani: My first area of focus is smart development. There is so much happening in 1B-12 in the next few years, and I hope to make our district a welcoming place for both residents and an eclectic mix of businesses.  If there is truly constructive discourse with businesses, neighboring districts, and within our constituency, I believe that we can foster growth intelligently while maintaining our community’s vivacity and culture.

I also plan to work closely with MPD to ensure they are aware of the day-to-day issues on U Street and that we all are in agreement on the most strategic use of police resources in our community.

"ANC 1B"

Click for a larger image: ANC 1B includes most of the U Street corridor (ANC 1B website, with boundaries in effect for 2012 election)

Borderstan: What do you hope to contribute to your community while on the ANC?

Jilani: I will be a visible, responsive, engaged representative. Constituents will know that they can count on me when they are having an issue with city services, new construction, or other issues that inevitably arise when residents and businesses coexist. On the ANC I will strive to cast my vote in a way that not only takes into account the issues we have in 1B-12, but also a larger vision for U Street.

Borderstan: What do you think gives you an edge over other candidate(s) running in your district?

Jilani: Through my volunteer efforts with the ANC, I have become very familiar with the local political process. I have attended every ANC meeting since I moved to the district; I am familiar with the developments occurring in our area and can recognize productive discourse.  I know that my experience and enthusiasm will allow me to make a positive difference in our neighborhood during this vital time.

Borderstan: What is your day job and is there a connection to how your day job would assist you in being a commissioner?

Jilani: I have a deep commitment to public service and work for the American Diabetes Association by day. I am the organizer of a million dollar event for diabetes research, advocacy and education and I love what I do. My experience advocating for people with diabetes has given me the tools I need to serve as commissioner of 1B-12 and represent the voice of our community.

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