1. How long have you lived in your ANC? And how long have you lived in DC, or the DC area?
In February, I'll have been in this ANC five years. I've spent 19 years in the DC area -- mostly in Arlington and mostly through my childhood and early 20s.
Even when we lived in Arlington, we came into DC frequently. I remember being thrilled when the District got home rule. I remember coming down to Fort McNair for Thanksgiving lunch every year and going to the Flagship restaurant for brunch most Sundays. This city and this area are truly my home.
2. What made you decide to run for ANC?
I was asked by the previous commissioner if I'd be willing to run. I didn't hesitate. I feel called to serve my neighbors and our neighborhood.
3. What do you see as the role of an ANC commissioner?
We have a great many roles. The most important is as the first connection of our neighbors to the city government. As commissioners, we have to look at the city and the neighborhood and guide the decisions that need to be made after consulting our constituents and reviewing the ideas. A developer who comes in without a clear environmental plan in place should be opposed. However, opposing a development just because some vocal people don't like the idea of a new building or project is also wrong. We're constantly being faced with these decisions and commissioners must find the balance -- and be prepared to be hated for any given decision.
4. Near Southeast will now have two commissioners. How will you work with your east-of-South-Capitol compatriot on issues specific to the neighborhood?
Talking to residents would be my top priority. I also believe in educating myself through articles and questions to the relevant government agencies.
In the past two years, I've found Commissioner Garber to be very open about the needs of Southeast and his opinion on the best approaches. For instance, I voted in favor of trying to bring School Without Walls to Southeast while Van Ness was being renovated which was one of Commissioner Garber's initiatives.
5. Both districts are home to public housing residents. Are their interests being forgotten in the push for and emphasis on redevelopment in these areas? How do you serve them as commissioner?
I think one of the best things about the redevelopment is that it's bringing in jobs. This past August, I asked my colleagues at the Department of Employment Services and the Community Benefits Coordinating Council to hold a targeted event at King-Greenleaf to get local residents into training and apprenticeship programs in preparation for the new construction jobs that were coming up with the Southwest Waterfront Project. Once I made the connection between the two, I stepped out of the picture. The CBCC did a great job, and several other commissioners helped make the event a success. Holding more of these events -- focused on the new jobs that are opening in retail, hospitality, and construction -- is a key goal of mine. Public housing assistance is a huge part of the safety net, but there should be ways up and out, including job readiness and other forms of job preparation training. For the younger residents, tutoring or after school programs could be helpful in their quest to complete their high school diplomas. Right now, DPR is looking at Randall Recreation Center for programs of that type.
I also think were lucky to have a community clinic run by Unity Healthcare in ANC6D02. Good health is important to everyone and a clinic for school physicals, shots, and basic medical care is a necessary amenity.
6. If you could wave a wand and get something done in Near Southeast tomorrow, what would it be, and why?
I'd have Van Ness School up and running. I think a school is often the heart of a neighborhood. It can provide meeting space for things other than the school, but it's also central to every family with children. I'd also like to see a local high school back in the neighborhood.
It would be wonderful to have some form of urban farm/CSA/community garden space opened up, but I really think the schools should take precedence for wand waving purposes.
7. What do you want voters to remember about you as they fill out their ballot?
That I've done my best to serve the city and the neighborhood faithfully for the past two years. I've listened, done my research -- both general research on urban planning and development, and specific research on laws, regulations, and community needs -- and voted my conscience.
Also, remember to vote. You can register on the day if you need to.
8. 6D02 is a new ANC, with boundaries that run from just south of the Mall in Southwest down to Nationals Park in SE west of 1st Street (along with Capitol Hill Tower and 909 New Jersey). What do you see as the most pressing issue(s) for this particular area?
There are empty buildings and empty lots in this area and we need to find ways to fill them. I like the way Akridge has handled the lot near the stadium by creating the Fairgrounds, although that type of temporary solution needs to have strong voluntary agreements in place. It's an active space for much of the year with neighborhood interaction.
9. Do you see any difficulties inherent in representing portions of both SE and SW, which sometimes have very different goals and interests? How will you handle this?
I know that many Near Southeast residents hoped to be redistricted with Capitol Hill. It didn't happen because there were worries that doing so would create a "super-ANC" which might dominate the other ANCs in Ward 6. It's also very nice to have a commission with an odd number of participants to help prevent tie votes.
I think we should concentrate on the areas where our goals do align: the health and usage of our waterfronts, education for the children of the neighborhood, better crosswalks for South Capitol Street, better traffic solutions, green spaces, neighborhood serving retail and jobs are all areas that need improvement. Working together as an ANC to bring our great weight to bear on city agencies -- as with the prolonged fight to have an M Street traffic study -- has a proven track record.
Southwest businesses and developers should take a leaf out of Near Southeast's book when it comes to participation in a Business Improvement District. I admire what the BID has done to promote Near Southeast and to bring a wide range of retail and restaurant options into the area. We'll be seeing more of the benefits soon.
10. There is great concern from residents east of South Capitol about parking, specifically on-street parking for residents who are ineligible for RPP stickers thanks to living in large multi-unit buildings. What will be your approach to this?
I'd like to see limited RPP parking available to the multi-unit buildings for their guests. Other cities and areas have a limited number of RPP guest sticker available to larger buildings, and that could be a partial solution. The key thing is to ensure that new residents who buy without a parking space or sign a lease understand that RPP is not included in the neighborhood. I was appalled to find out this wasn't well known to many Near Southeast residents when they chose to live here. It is the responsibility of the management companies and the developers to make the situation crystal clear.
I would be open to suggestions on this front. A lottery held every two years for RPP might be a way to spread the burden, or it might be a disaster. Limiting the areas for the stickers might also be a good way to handle RPP issues. It's worked in other cities.
In addition, I think DC should follow Alexandria's example and offer a tax break to residents who use car sharing programs rather than keep private cars. It could substantially reduce the number of cars competing for space.
11. It looks like development south of M Street may soon start ramping up again. How do you approach both the interest in getting that area activated with what will probably be increased crowds and noise that may make established residents north of M unhappy?
I keep coming back to the term balance. I think balance defines a good neighborhood, and I think neighborhoods are a combination of three types of people: those who visit, those who work there, and those who live there. The residents have to be the first priority for any commissioner, but the needs of the workers -- who may also be residents -- are important
The visitors need reasons to come to the neighborhood, like a baseball stadium or interesting restaurants. They need ways to get to transportation and/or parking without disturbing residents. Office workers keep the area vital during the week days and may also be residents.
12. Should Drew Storen have been pulled in the bottom of the 9th in the 5th game of the NLCS after he gave up the first hit?
Probably, but I'm just not a good enough coach to be sure. ;-)