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.
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/Dupont, 2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor.
So now, it is time to meet your candidates. Here at Borderstan.com, 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.
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.
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.