From David McAuley. Email at david[AT]borderstan.com.
Abigail Nichols is running against Dito Sevilla in a special election to fill a vacant seat on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B. The District 05 seat became vacant when former Commissioner Victor Wexler resigned.
The election is Wednesday, March 13, from 7:15 pm to 9:30 pm at the ANC 2B/Dupont monthly meeting at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW. You must be a registered voter in ANC 2B Single Member District (SMD) 05 to vote.
Nichols has lived on 18th Street NW in Dupont Circle for 33 years. She is on the ANC 2B Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) Policy Committee. Nichols earned a Ph.D. in Economics and Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and worked for 20 years as a policy analyst and manager at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Nichols is treasurer of the DC chapter of the League of Women Voters and the co-founder of the Alcohol Sanity Coalition DC.
Borderstan: Why is this election important?
Nichols: The Advisory Neighborhood Commission advises the District government and the Council on many issues. These include traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor license, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation, and trash collection. In many cases there is a formal process for requesting this advice, but the ANC can lobby the government on any subject.
In my experience most residents benefit from the work of the ANC but do not get directly involved. I was in that position until alcohol businesses moved in directly across from our condominium for the first time. That experience working with the ANC’s and several excellent commissioners made it very clear to me how important it is that the right person be in the job when you need him or her. Residents should not take who their commissioners are for granted. Paying attention now can help later when they need help.
Borderstan: Where can potential voters go to find out more information about you?
Nichols: I have a website and you can write me at ACNforANC2B05[AT]hotmail.com
Borderstan: What motivated you to run for this position?
Nichols: It’s a natural progression in service to my community that began with protecting my large condominium from the excesses of club central. It’s fun to get to know the people living in my single member district and the issues related to government that interest them. The topics the Commission considers — zoning, historic preservation, schools, alcohol licensing, and community festivals interest me. ANC 2B has an excellent reputation and I want to join it.
Borderstan: What sets you apart from the other candidate?
Nichols: I don’t know Mr. Sevilla. I know I’d be an excellent representative, and it’s hard to believe he is better prepared. Voters should ask both of us about the positions we already hold and whether we have any conflicts of interest that might affect our ANC service. How would we handle such conflicts? One thing I’ve learned is that commissioners must be nonpartisan so I will have to drop active campaigning in party politics.
My preparation includes 1) successfully negotiating several settlement agreements with alcohol establishments, 2) several years’ experience with ANC procedures, 3) testimony and meetings at the DC Council, 4) selling the transferable development rights of my church in a million dollar business development deal and 5) education in economics including urban economics and a career in policy analysis.
Borderstan: Why should people vote for you?
Nichols: I am prepared, I will be able to devote time to service, and my instincts are to listen and gather facts before making decisions. I will be diligent in bringing forward and voting on ANC business and will help residents find the right place to go in DC government for other kinds of issues they face.
Borderstan: What is your favorite thing about the neighborhood?
Nichols: I love the fact that I can do so much by foot: post office, bank, library, church, groceries, restaurants, etc. Then, if I do need to go further afield, there is great transportation to other parts of the city and even to other cities. I love the old buildings. I like the people who live here; they like the neighborhood for the same reasons I so. I like remembering that my parents met each other in long-demolished rooming houses whose addresses are now in ANC 2B-05.
The single member district (SMD) for which I am running is not the typical DC SMD. The whole of the District of Columbia is divided into single member Advisory Neighborhood Commission districts that contain about 2,000 residents. Districts differ in the number of businesses they include.
Some SMD’s may have no businesses at all, but the ratio of businesses to residents in this SMD is huge. 2B-05 runs from 15th Street Northwest west to 17th with a bit of 18th Street NW and south from Q to Pennsylvania Avenue. We have museums, retail stores, bars and restaurants, churches, professional services, service facilities like the Jewish Community Center, and the YMCA, organization offices and parks.
Most residents have other near-by residences, but Presidential at 16th and L and the Palladium at 1325 18th Street NW, are apartment/condo buildings, which aren’t close to other residences and are surrounded by business. Other residents also live in apartment buildings like the Berkeley and the Richmond on 17th, 1 Scott Circle and 1500 Massachusetts Avenue. But the district also includes some townhouses and detached homes as well.
Borderstan: What is one thing that you would like to change about the neighborhood?
Nichols: I’m grateful to those who work to nurture trees. I’d love to see trees thriving again in all the areas where we’ve lost trees.
Borderstan: What is your opinion, generally speaking, about liquor moratoriums?
Nichols: I realize that a moratorium on 17th Street is expiring this fall, and that I will need to learn a lot about the history of the moratorium and how it currently affects business and residents. Voters can be confident that I will diligently study the issue and talk to residents before making any decisions. Interested residents should organize like-minded people to make sure their views are heard. Newcomers may not even know that this is an issue and will be surprised how concerned longtime residents will be about this.
Borderstan: What, if anything, should be changed concerning on-street parking for residents in your district?
Nichols: Good question. I haven’t thought about this because I live above a commercial garage and park there. I intend to represent the whole SMD so I will learn about parking and resident problems.
Borderstan: How many ANC 2B meetings have you attended since January 1, 2012?
Nichols: I’ve attended most meetings of the ANC for the last four years. Attendance is a good way to keep up on the neighborhood issues and activities.
Borderstan: Where were you on the evening of February 13, when the last ANC 2B meeting was held? Why?
Nichols: I was there. I attended the ANC meeting to hear the announcement of the special election in which I am running in and what was said about its logistics, to respond to the chairman’s invitation and make a short speech about my candidacy, and — because I was on the agenda — to discuss a new alcohol license application that affects residents.