There are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up-for-grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont, 2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor. Recently we introduced you to the candidates, including Zahra Jilani (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). She faces John Carlos Green, Dan Wittels and Erling Bailey.
Now, it’s Question and Answer Time on the issues.
Borderstan: What will be your first priority/new initiative if you are elected to ANC 1B and why?
Jilani: My first area of focus is smart development for 1B12. There is so much happening in our district over 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 vibrancy and culture.
Borderstan: How will you engage your constituents on issues so that your decisions reflect that of the majority of your Single Member District?
Jilani: I will continually engage my constituents through my three-fold communication plan. I created the ANC 1B Newsletter, and will continue to improve it so residents know what events and meetings they can get involved in within our neighborhood. Second, I will create our own 1B-12 listserv so we have an ongoing discussion of issues in the neighborhood. Third, if there is a need in our community, I will hold monthly meetings so we can have our own forum for issues specific to our district and get to know our neighbors.
Borderstan: What value do you think neighborhood associations provide, and how do you plan to interact with them?
Jilani: Neighborhood associations provide integral support and extreme value to the ANC process. I plan to work very closely with our neighborhood associations, as I have begun to do so already, to create a cohesive and communicative 1B-12.
Borderstan: Becoming “the next Adams Morgan” is a consistent fear expressed in in the neighborhood. Would you support a liquor license moratorium for the 14th and U corridor? If so, why? If not, why?
Jilani: I think that we need an eclectic mix of businesses in our community, and need to work closely with ABRA to carefully scrutinize each liquor license application as it is presented. A liquor license doesn’t necessarily mean the business will be a bar or club, which I think we can all agree U street is already saturated with. Busboys and Poets right here in 1B-12 is a great example of an establishment that utilizes its liquor license to promote and encourage education through reading and the arts, and I welcome similarly creative uses of space in our district. I know that with effective community input and productive discourse between businesses and residents, we can foster a mix of businesses that will work to enhance and encourage the arts and culture of our neighborhood.
Borderstan: Do you believe the voluntary agreement process for liquor license applicants needs to be changed? If so, how?
Jilani: The VA process, when used correctly, is a great tool which can work to the benefit of both businesses and residents. I plan to foster the use of VAs through productive discourse and with a focus on the community as whole rather than simply businesses versus residents.
Borderstan: Logan Circle and the 14th and U corridor areas are now a destination spot for people throughout the DC Metro area, especially on weekends. Do you believe that the police presence, particularly on the 14th, U Street and 9th Street corridors, is adequate, especially on weekends?
Jilani: No, but more policemen isn’t the only answer. If elected, I will work closely with MPD to get the police out of their cars and onto the streets, knowing our district well enough that they can prevent crimes before they occur. I also encourage residents to attend our monthly public safety meetings so we can work together to create a solution to the crime in our district. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] for more information on any of the ANC subcommittee meeting dates and locations.
Borderstan: The pace of development is rapid in the area, especially along 14th Street NW. Do you think more commercial buildings would be good for the area, as opposed to more residential buildings?
Jilani: I hope to see more office buildings around 14th Street, so we have increased activity during the day.
Borderstan: Are there types of business in the neighborhood that stand out as something we need more of in the area? If so, can you name three?
Jilani: As I mentioned, Busboys and Poets does a great job fostering arts and education in our district. I support what they are trying to accomplish for the community and hope to see more bookstores in the area. U St Farmers Market is also a great example of a positive business influence in our district. I hope to support grants for more community gardens in our area as well, as a place to bring adults and children alike together in support of a more environmentally sustainable community.