Since January, 2003
 Sliding from Before to After

You can't swing a cat across the DC blogosphere these days without seeing self-written profiles of current Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidates. And while it's great that the ANC races are now getting more coverage than they have in the past, the political cynic in me* is not a big fan of platitudes and general won't-anger-anyone stands. ("I'm for development! But also for the residents! And the schools!")
So I decided to ask ANC 6D07's candidates, incumbent Robert Siegel and challenger David Garber, a series of questions about Near Southeast, their impressions of the role of an ANC commissioner, and what they see as some of the issues the neighborhood is currently facing. And they were generous enough to respond!
I tried to ask questions that would elicit some actual information to help voters choose between the candidates, and so hopefully their answers will be enlightening. And no, I didn't ask about CSX and the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, because I didn't see the chance that one or the other might suddenly pop out with a big pro-tunnel-construction viewpoint. But I did ask which potential new Marine Barracks site each candidate would support, although it's worth noting that most of the sites that the Marines are looking at aren't actually in 6D07, but are in 6B.
So, read both Siegel's and Garber's answers (all the way through, you low-attention-span blog consumers!), and then remember to actually vote on Nov. 2.
(* I am a poster child for Generation X Watergate-instilled political cynicism, aided by the fact that Nixon resigned on my eighth birthday. I also broke a finger in a playground fight the day Jimmy Carter got elected, but I don't think we were fighting about politics.)
Comments (41)
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JD but not that JD says: (10/14/10 11:39 AM)
Comparing answers to answers, gotta say that I like Garber's approach much more. Also, a tinge of Ego in the "whats the neighborhood's greatest strenghth" question from Siegel...he essentially answers "me"...

Tas says: (10/14/10 12:34 PM)
Interesting read. Garber sounds like the much better choice. Good luck to him!

JD says: (10/14/10 12:42 PM)
By the way, I'm sure everyone who's going to post in this comment thread will be sure to mention whether they are a personal friend of the candidate they're writing good things about, or if they had no opinion and/or no connection to the candidate(s) before reading these questionnaires.... (My cynicism about politics isn't just centered on the candidates.)

SW says: (10/14/10 12:44 PM)
Nice job, JD.

Jason says: (10/14/10 1:11 PM)
Thanks to JD for getting the candidates to go beyond the buzzowrds and "platitudes."

Garber certainly seems to be hitting the pavement and blogosphere harder. There is something to be said for someone who takes the time to ask for my vote.

I have lived in the neighborhood for 15 months and have heard more from and seen more of Garber in the last 2 weeks than I have of the other fellow the whole time I've lived here.

Communication is a two-way street and the incumbent doesn't seem to grasp that in the way that his challenger does.

Bruce says: (10/14/10 1:34 PM)
I support David for a number of reasons. He is in touch with the area and has a true sense of what is needed. In terms of what Southeast needs, it's a supermarket and a school for our local children. We have Garfield park already.
With all due respect, as for "this motivates me to be those eyes and ears of my neighbors" as Mr. Siegel claims, I have NEVER seen him in or around the community. He was invited to weigh in on CSX and attend the meeting at the Marriott on L St SE. He never responded.
The goal is to create an esthetically pleasing, yet functional through design area that, as Tommy Wells would say, is livable and walkable.
I endorsed David because (and I quote myself here) "David has a clear vision for what is best for the community."
It is true. We need a Commissioner who will be the eyes and ears.
That person is David....

Bruce says: (10/14/10 1:37 PM)
JD: thank you for taking the time to do this. As always, thank you for your hard work! it is appreciated by me and all of the residents!!

Anonymous says: (10/14/10 2:40 PM)
Dude, did you seriously just quote yourself? I'm not sure you put your citation in proper APA format.

Bruce says: (10/14/10 3:17 PM)
Dude, I'll live and I'm not anonymous ..thanks for pointing that out.

V says: (10/14/10 5:03 PM)
Dudes, just chill. Alright?

JD but not that JD says: (10/14/10 5:29 PM)
Dudes, i just want to clarify that i have no connection to the dudes running, nor did I have an opinion of any dudes before making my comment about those dudes' responses to those questions.

JD says: (10/14/10 5:37 PM)


Mike McEleney says: (10/14/10 6:36 PM)

I disagree with your statement that "I didn't ask about CSX and the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, because I didn't see the chance that one or the other might suddenly pop out with a big pro-tunnel-construction viewpoint".

Having been involved with the anti-tunnel effort for over a year, I have had the opportunity to meet many people in 6D07 opposed to the tunnel. I am sad to say that the two candidates were not among them, and I have not seen or heard a public statement against the tunnel from either candidate. At this point, with scoping meetings beginning and the election season almost complete, silence on the tunnel is indistinguishable from support. It is disappointing that neither candidate chose to volunteer the issue in your questionnaire.

Candidates, please prove me wrong and state (and show) your opposition to the tunnel plan!

MJ says: (10/14/10 9:25 PM)
Not everyone is opposed to the tunnel project. Unfortunately, the project is inevitable: the tunnel is a critical transportation link. Accordingly, I say let's get started now rather than later, when the area is even more populated.

CA says: (10/14/10 9:44 PM)
Hmm, this may not be the right place to be posting about this but that hasn't stoped other posts.

About the tunnel, I am all for the CSX tunnel construction. The new tunnel will reduce the amount of tractor trailers on roadways, reduce energy use and more efficiently move cargo. Yes, the construction may be short term pain, but long term this makes sense. Yes, those in CQ paid a lot of $ for their homes, sorry you can't flip until after the construction...oops.

I am all for updating our infrastructure and even your President would like to put $50 Billion to work on our infrastructure. Could your President be wrong?

JD says: (10/14/10 10:10 PM)
Oh, CA, you were doing just fine until that last line! Talk about waving a red flag in front of an internet full of bulls! :)

We've kept the comment threads here remarkably free of vitriol, so I'm offering an advance plea, let's stay on topic about Near SE. There's a billion other places on the web where you can go argue national politics.

Rob Lee says: (10/14/10 11:13 PM)
@CA Your (and CSX's) claims that the new tunnel will reduce trucks on roadways is a complete fabrication of non-existent data. Most truck companies are also planning for a major increase in work as a result from the panama canal opening.

I have asked CSX for the source of their data or study showing how the CSX Tunnel Project will reduce emissions, traffic, and make the world a cleaner place.

Silence from CSX. No study or data exists. If there is, I welcome anyone to point me to the study or any data regarding how the national gateway project will directly accomplish that.

Anyone who is quoting directly from press material from CSX should be more of a critical reader of unsupported facts from a corporation that is pulling in record profits this year.

The only GREEN project they have completed is filling in the background color of their pretty national gateway website.

CSX is no friend of DC or our neighborhood.

JD says: (10/14/10 11:34 PM)
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Conservation Fund have both written letters of support for the project--have you gotten in touch with them to find out exactly what they're basing their support on?

Also, can you help me with a list of environmental groups opposing the project? I can't find any. (I'm not being flip--I seriously can't find any, but figure you have a complete list of them.)

MJM says: (10/15/10 12:00 AM)
I'm not gonna wave a red flag, post anything about the ANC election, or debate my two favorites posters but I do want to post how important facts are to any flag the report on CSX's earnings and see if you can find anything in the release that would be an indicator of the benefits of the National Gateway Project
If you missed - it has something to do with "Intermodal shipments"

CSX also plans to run longer trains as the economy grows and hire 2,000 people by the end of the year who were previously furloughed.

JD says: (10/15/10 12:35 AM)
MJM, no, please, post about the ANC election! Anything to reroute from CSX! Danger! Warning! Comment thread going off the rails!

jg says: (10/15/10 4:44 AM)
Did Seigel every prove he lives in the district? The folks living in his house on 5th admitted he doesn't live there--what kind of jaded dirt bag runs for office in a district he doesn't live in!

where do you go from there Bob?

You have been against the renewal of the neighborhood
from the beginning, time to move on to maryland where you live.

Andrew in DC says: (10/15/10 7:44 AM)

Apparently tax evasion is en vogue now, too - since he's still pulling his homestead tax deduction.

MJM says: (10/15/10 8:35 AM)
Ok JD - I'll get off the tracks....The Blade article/linked from Dave's Twitter page looks like a cat fight between the two on who attended the most meetings. Weird how the first ANC meeting I attended Siegel wasn't there - thought that was kinda your "job" to attend meetings since that was all about FCE and the BID presentations on art and metro naming. Anyway, Dave was there though....but looking back through the minutes Siegel had been at every one I looked at.....

Tax evasion - isn't that a prerequisite before you can for office? :p

Glenn says: (10/15/10 9:25 AM)
I commend you, JD, for underscoring the importance of the ANCs. The work they do on the ground can be very influential regarding development, and in the absence of proper attention, residents do not have their issues heard, and developers do not put their best foot forward, and plans can lag for lack of mature comment and real community benefit.
The next issue of "The Southwester" will include a guide to voting for ANC members in the entire ANC6D area, including Near Southeast. The paper does not endorse candidates, but provides a complete guide, especially for those who live in pesky areas where the lines for the single member districts can be confusing (i.e., SW).
In any case, a head to head forum of questions which you provided is very helpful.
SWNA (The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly) will also have a candidate presentation at its monthly meeting: "Meet Your 6D ANC Candidates" on Monday, October 25, 2010 beginning at 7:00 pm at St. Augustine Church, 600 Main Street SW.
This will, of course, include the candidates from 07 in SE. Many seats in the ANC are contested, some as hotly as the one in Near Southeast.
(full disclosure: I am the editor of "The Southwester."

JD says: (10/15/10 9:50 AM)
MJM, there is one glaring error in that Blade article, when it says that David Garber has lived in the neighborhood for 3 years. While he's lived in "southeast DC" for that amount of time, the vast majority has been across the river in Anacostia. He moved to ANC 6D07 in July.

Blade article:

David discussing his move from Anacostia:

PotoAve says: (10/15/10 10:12 AM)
Call it flattering that the neighborhood can draw carpetbagging ANC candidates now. Garber knew he had no chance of ever winning a ANC seat/being part of the power structure in his real neighborhood?.

Andrew in DC says: (10/15/10 10:16 AM)
"his real neighborhood"?

WTF is that? Someone's tied to a plot of land forever now, once they live there? Have we re regressed to pre-Westphalian era? Did someone implement hokou while I wasn't looking?

Look around, mate - we're (almost) all "carpet baggers" from somewhere in this area.

David Garber says: (10/15/10 11:32 AM)
Since I'm a dedicated comment reader, I figured I could respond to some of the topics.

1. I see the CSX project as inevitable. It is a federal project that is unfortunately right in our backyard. As ANC Commissioner, what I Can do is work hard to ensure that the end VA Ave product is better looking and more functional than it is now, and that residents needs are met and investments protected during construction.

2. It's true. I have only been a resident of 6D07 for a few months. If you read JD's link to my Anacostia blog, you know that it was kind of a random collection of events that led me to Near Southeast from a neighborhood I've been pretty involved with for the past few years. Fortunately, this is a neighborhood where almost everyone is at least a relative newcomer. When I moved in I noticed that the neighborhood representation wasn't as strong as I thought it needed to be, especially with so much opportunity for valuable input. So I decided to run for Commissioner.

Whatever the result on November 2, I will leave this experience knowing that there is significant support for positive change in the neighborhood.

call or email with questions or just say hi: dggarber[at] / 202.374.5340

JD says: (10/15/10 12:47 PM)
@Glenn, thanks for the heads up about the Candidate forum--if you have anything about it, or a link or whatever, e-mail it to me, so I can remember to post abut it when the date is closer.

newbie says: (10/15/10 3:52 PM)
6. How do you feel about Nationals Park in terms of its impacts on the neighborhood?
Siegel says
Nationals Park has had a wonderful economic impact on the neighborhood. The Park has made the area ALIVE with continued development that is attracting more businesses and new residents.

Sex Industry Funded Campaign Against New Stadium
March 31, 2005 - 7:01am


[story posted by commenter removed, copyright issues for reproducing the entire thing, which I'm sure the commenter understands, being from the publishing biz]

MJM says: (10/15/10 4:14 PM)
@Newbie - awesome! But I'm sure he made a few pennies from the city buying his land/shops and more than made up for his $20K investment. :)

Not taking sides but who voted for him the last 11 years? Did he win 1-0?

JD says: (10/15/10 4:20 PM)
@MJM, don't forget that there are a fair number of people who live in this neighborhood who aren't living in the online world to make their preferences known, and who have lived in Near SE longer than most everyone else. The residents of Capper Seniors #1, 400 M, and the returning Capper residents now in Capitol Quarter know Bob Siegel pretty well. He has worked with them a lot over the years.

To use the plugged-in comments thread here as an indicator of the makeup of the neighborhood is a grave mistake. Those other residents, many of whom lived here during the worst of Near SE's times (especially in the ghastly Old Capper Seniors building at 7th and L), are forgotten a lot of the time by the newcomers.

JD says: (10/15/10 4:29 PM)
Also, since not many Near SE residents show up at ANC meetings (or maybe have only been to one or two very recent ones), here's a nice weekend reading assignment, my 168 ANC-related blog posts since 2003:


MJM says: (10/15/10 4:37 PM)
I think most people on here are, as Poto pointed out are carpetbaggers. But still I guess if no one runs against you - you are probably gonna win (thus 1-0 comment - not sure if anyone ran against him over the years) but yeah if anyone gets out and walks the area or attends any of the meeting in the old folks home (and listen to their stories) there are still a lot of the pre-carpetbagger era still residing here (which is a good thing).

Either way the next few weeks will be interesting!!

JD says: (10/15/10 4:49 PM)
In 2008, Siegel beat Geoff Kreiss (a resident of CHT) 219-89. In 2006, when basically nobody lived in Near SE, he beat Calvin McDaniel 61-29. DCBOEE doesn't have 2004 results, but in 2002 he ran unopposed and won 176-6.

Rob Lee says: (10/15/10 8:23 PM)
I think we all see the CSX project as inevitable.
That isn't the issue. CSX will not have a supporter out of me until they are completely open and transparent about their plans and mitigation strategies.

As a result, currently I'm against the project. CSX is not very forthcoming about EXACTLY how they will make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure our lifestyle, environmental, and security/safety concerns are met.

Doing the bare minimum doesn't cut it.

They said:
"We are not planning to cover the tunnel."
"We are not reducing train traffic."
"We are not sure how to get emergency vehicles to these residents."

We are giving up a lot to have CSX dig up in our backyards for 3 years. What is CSX giving up? What is CSX doing to ensure we can still sleep at night with a train less than 15 feet from the townhouses?

At this point... one thing is clear... they aren't doing much to make us sleep better at night.

Are they a neighborhood partner or a corporation just trying to get their project done and acting like they care? The jury is still out.

Mike McEleney says: (10/16/10 9:10 AM)
the tunnel project is not a federal project, it is a private csx project for which they sought and are seeking federal funding. It is not on the dc transportation plan and the district did not
norendorse csx's request. The tracks and tunnel are privately owned and operated. Thanks in part to the outreach efforts of local residents federal stimulus money for the project was denied. Nothing would be worse than writing csx a blank check without protections for our neighborhood.

Michae says: (10/25/10 11:05 PM)
What are their views on renaming the Navy Yard Metro station?

Bruce says: (10/26/10 8:55 AM)
I attended the Meet the candidates at St. Augustines Church last night.
It went well except for a couple of small combative exchanges.
I asked the 6D07 incumbent what his strategy was for sustaining a livable/walkable (I know, he used Tommy's words on his printed bio) community during the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project and who (if anyone) had he reached out to at CSX.
He had no idea and danced around it other than to say that he will be affected since he lives right there. (I didnt get into that issue although I knocked on his door not long ago and someone who was not him answered and was very nice, that's all i'll say)..
I mentioned to him that he was invited to attend the CSX meeting at the Courtyard Marriott a while back and that he never responded.
His bio claims that he is always reachable. I simply refuted that claim.
His opening comments were all about him and that he is a great leader.

David Garber says: (10/26/10 5:43 PM)
in general, I would like to keep Metro station names as simple as possible. I don't think the name should be used as a tourguide for everything in the area. That said, I do recognize the huge draw and importance of the ballpark and the riverfront, and wonder if there is a more attractive way to rename the station than to add a bunch of slashes and names to the existing format.

MJM says: (10/27/10 8:19 PM)
Technically the National Gateway Project is not a "private csx project."
It is getting public money so its kinda a mix of private and public so wouldn't exactly call it private.

There are lots of things w/in the Capitol Riverfront such as a neighborhood, a baseball stadium, offices, the Navy Yard, The Yards, parks, etc. Lets move away from the Navy Yard because it gets old having to tell people I live near the Navy Yard - oh isn't that area a ghetto, do you feel safe, what a scary area, etc? Time to move in a new direction and if it starts with a new metro name..........If they had just stuck with the simple, two words max names (Gallery Place, Ballston, Rosslyn, VA Square, Silver Springs, Woodley Park, etc) we wouldn't be having these discussions.

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