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Politics are local. With ANCs, very local.

While DC's mayoral and council races were effectively over after the primary, there are local elections worth paying attention to in November. Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) seats are up for election.

Photo by Theresa Thompson on Flickr.

The ANC system was created in 1974 with the goal of providing residents a forum to discuss issues impacting their neighborhood and take recommendations to various District government agencies. Across the 8 District wards, there are 37 ANCs. Each ANC is subdivided into Single Member Districts (SMDs) of approximately 2,000 people and each SMD has one elected commissioner who represents their constitutes of their corresponding ANC.

For example, I live in Mt. Pleasant (Ward 1). My ANC is 1D and my SMD is 1D05. ANCs vary in size; some have as many of 12 SMDs while others have as few as two. To find your ANC and/or SMD, just type your address into the DC Citizen Atlas.

Unlike ward council members, ANC commissioners are not paid and are elected to a two-year term. While often considered a thankless job, ANC commissioners can wield a lot of power. ANCs consider and present recommendations to government officials on a range of issues including parking, traffic, zoning, trash collection, and economic development, to name a few. In short, these individuals can make a tremendous impact on your community, for good and for bad.

There are over 80 contested ANC seats on the November 2 ballot. A number of ANC seats face no challengers and there are even a handful of ANC seats that have no nominees. The list of candidates can be found at the DC Board of Election, in addition to maps of the ANC areas.

It is often hard to find information on ANC candidates, but a number of local blogs provide profiles of candidates, like The Hill is Home and Frozen Tropics for races around Capitol Hill, H Street and surrounding neighborhoods.

The ANC system was designed to provide residents a direct link with the larger DC government as well as serve as a forum to voice community concerns. Get informed and vote on November 2.

We'll be putting together some endorsements in key contested ANC races. Do you have a contested race in or around your neighborhood? What issues matter to you in those races? If you've been following the campaign, which candidates do you like?

Lynda Laughlin is a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. She holds a PhD in sociology and enjoys reading, writing, and researching issues related to families and communities, urban economics, and urban development. Lynda lives in Mt. Pleasant. Views expressed here are strictly her own. 


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I live in Ward 3, ANC3E, SMD 3E04. The other weekend a woman named Sally Greenberg, who is running for ANC, gave me her campaign literature. Under her "issues" she listed Smart Growth, but I'm not really sure what she stands for specifically, or what ANC3E smart growth issues she supports or opposes. I've yet to email her to ask, though I plan to. Know anything about her?

by Jamie on Oct 19, 2010 3:31 pm • linkreport

What's the GGW view of the AU situation with ANC 3D02 and 3D07? Does AU have a right to have two students in the SMDs? Especially in 3D07, where the majority of the population is students? And what about Tom Smith filing petitions with the BOEE saying that AU students are gaming the system and the BOEE's refusal to accept candidates, instead forcing students to run as write in candidates? I'm obviously going to have a one sided view of the discussion, but what are the outsiders view?

by SquirrelBoy on Oct 19, 2010 3:48 pm • linkreport

Tom Quinn, her opponent, is the real smart growth candidate in that race. He is on the Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee and has been an active proponent of Transit Oriented Development, progressive transportation policies and other like minded issues. Over the years, he has attended countless ANC meetings to support better development in Tenleytown and Friendship Heights - two areas that can use a facelift of amenities and vibrancy.

I would strongly encourage any supporters of smart growth, inclusionary housing, innovative parking policies and other issues advocated by this blog to get the word out to support Tom.

Not to slight her, but I have never met Sally Greenberg, never seen her at an ANC meeting or otherwise heard of her support for any smart growth debates in her area. I too would be interested to know her views.

by Andrew on Oct 19, 2010 3:49 pm • linkreport

This is important information for people to know, as ANC members can work "under the radar" and run wild because voters will never make any checks on their behavior.

That said, the ANCs should be abolished, and any discussion of ANCs needs to include this simple fact.

by JustMe on Oct 19, 2010 4:07 pm • linkreport

SquirrelBoy, are you saying the BOEE didn't allow students to pick up petitions to run, or wouldn't accept their petitions once they had gathered their signatures? I assumed the students were running as write-ins because with the university schedule they didn't get their movement organized until after the filing deadline had passed.

by Keith Ivey on Oct 19, 2010 4:12 pm • linkreport

@Keith Ivey

From what I understand they filed the petitions before the filing deadline, but were rejected because either there were not enough signatures, or, speaking to Sami Green, the rejection of the signatures she did have.

It was fairly well documented the plan for this election in our campus newspaper. The article is here:

The recent filing by Smith though seems to be just political maneuvering to shut down any chance of him losing his seat.

I am taking into account the source of the information, but it does seem to me that Smith and the residents are stonewalling students efforts to represent themselves in the community they live in for 4 years, at least.

by SquirrelBoy on Oct 19, 2010 4:24 pm • linkreport

There are a number of contested races in 6B (Capital Hill, SE area). What are some of the issues that are driving the races in this area?

by Lynda on Oct 19, 2010 4:29 pm • linkreport

Kamanda is rocking Adams Morgan - signs everywhere, meet and greets, etc. Its the district right in the heart. Kamanda is strong.

by DCobserver on Oct 19, 2010 4:29 pm • linkreport

ANC 1B has a few contested races. Peter Raia, who represents the happening section of U Street has a challenger. So does his neighbor Deborah Thomas in the SMD that includes the rapidly developing 14th St. corridor around Florida Avenue. Big zoning issues in these areas.

by Ward 1 Guy on Oct 19, 2010 4:41 pm • linkreport

ANC 1C has a 3-way contest (SMD 1C03) which has been heating up in the last few weeks. As one previous commenter has noted, Olivier Kamanda has generated quite a buzz in the race to replace ANC Commissioner Bryan Weaver

by Jason Coleman on Oct 19, 2010 4:44 pm • linkreport

Kevin Chapple vs Leroy Thorpe. Its got to be one of the most crazy only in DC type stories, google either name for more info. I have a treasure trove of insane flyers that float around the neighborhood, they are particularly harsh this election cycle..

by Chris R on Oct 19, 2010 4:45 pm • linkreport

Olivier Kamanda will bring a refreshing passion and much needed energy to the ANC representing SMD 1C03. He has the hard work and smarts to do great things for his district and the city.

by Rob F on Oct 19, 2010 4:53 pm • linkreport

Regarding the many races in ANC6B: And how! There are 22 candidates for 10 seats, way more than any other ANC in the city.

Maybe it's just me, but I think that's because ANC 6B from Capitol Hill to Lincoln Park to Barney Circle and Hill East, is insular and secretive, and has dropped the ball on a lot of important developments:

* Went out of their way last week to block a really great citizen volunteer, Larry Janezich, from serving on an ANC6B committee (the first such volunteer in ten [10!] years to pierce ANC6B's veil of secrecy and learn residents have a right to serve on ANC6B committees)
* Refused to hold a hearing on the threat to reroute Pennsylvania Avenue SE
* On redevelopment of Hine Jr High, actually blocked the developer from meeting with the residents at an ANC meeting until after the election (! Every other ANC drags the developer in to meet with residents and tell residents what's going on !)
* Endorsed a developer for Hill East, then stood by passively when that developer dropped out and the whole development fell into paralysis last April
* Yacked and yacked in January 2009 about the need to look into the issue of bars and restaurants driving out other retailers, then established a committee on "retail mix" in April 2010, then never had the committee meet, not even once
* Let DDOT remove the SE Lincoln Park CaBi (maybe ANC6B's Ken Jarboe actually had a hand in secretly killing it? I don't know, he won't say) then left it to ANC6B candidate Brian Pate to suggest a solution--instead of getting involved himself on behalf of bike-riding neighbors in his district
* Never did a darn thing in two years regarding child care, schools, public safety, transportation, etc. etc.

My list goes on and on...

I don't know all 22 candidates, of course, but there are five challengers I have gotten to know and I am extremely impressed with each of them:

ANC6B-05, Brian Pate, a recently minted Marine combat veteran with a young family, the guy who showed up last night at the Lincoln Park CaBi meeting with new ideas

ANC6B-04, Larry Janezich, a fantastic neighborhood volunteer and all-around good guy, involved in many community groups

ANC6B-02, Ivan Frishberg, another dad raising a family on the Hill, experienced at the national and international level on social development issues and a great advocate locally for the neighbors

ANC6B-09, Brian Flahaven, who almost single-handedly blocked ANC6B's efforts to force through Barney Circle Historic District designation (not because HD designation's not a good thing, as CM Wells noted when he asked HPRB to delay consideration of ANC6B's proposal back in June, but just because ANC6B had failed to even inform many residents in ANC6B/Barney Circle about their plans)...Flahaven's not a single-issue candidate on Barney Circle, either, but has good ideas on lots of Hill East issues

ANC6B-03, Jason Townsend, another dad, this one with kids at Brent ES and very involved in the Capitol Hill Public School Parents Association (CHPSPO) who, like me, cannot believe how disinterested ANC6B is in taking on the issue of Capitol Hill public schools.

Sorry to go on and on. I am all fired up about getting a new, improved ANC6B on Capitol Hill. I know I have left out other great ANC6B candidates, but these are the five I know the most about.

I hope these five, and other ANC6B challengers, come on and tell us why they are running.

by Trulee Pist on Oct 19, 2010 5:56 pm • linkreport

I have just met a young man who gives me real hope for Adams Morgan who is running in our ANC 1C03. He is Olivier Kamanda. He has real vision and integrity and has lived in the community for a long time and knows the joys and challenges we now face in the neighborhood. This is somebody we can all support!

by christyb on Oct 19, 2010 10:05 pm • linkreport


I'm another ANC 6B challenger, in 6B08. I'm running because the ANC is only effective when it spurs community members to take action, otherwise it will be ignored in the important issues facing our neighborhood.

I am committed to bringing a proactive approach to smart growth in the ANC 6B. Monday night at the Capitol Bikeshare meeting, I was disappointed at the backseat role the ANC 6B played. As a Pre-K teacher, I'm especially committed to improving our Hill schools, playgrounds, and safe spaces for everyone. When it comes to transportation, I want to ensure the ANC is pushing developments (Hill East, Hine) to function first for pedestrians, and providing for a variety of transportation options (bus, CaBi, Metro).

I would love to talk more about my ideas. laura [at] lauramcsorley [dot] com

by Laura McSorley on Oct 20, 2010 6:34 am • linkreport

We are running a series of interviews with candidates in four contested races in ANCs that cover the Dupont, Logan and U Street areas -- ANC 1B02, ANC 1B04, ANC 2B09 and ANC 2F06. First interview with Tucker Gallagher (1B02) went up Tuesday and the interview with Deborah Thomas (1B04) is up today.

by mattyillini on Oct 20, 2010 7:53 am • linkreport

Anc5C - almost every seat is contested after the fiasco with Big Bear Cafe liquor license and apparently some money tracking issues.

by victorianinbloom on Oct 20, 2010 8:51 am • linkreport

There are three candidates running in ANC 1a06 - I'd love some information/endorsements in that race.

by dcd on Oct 20, 2010 8:53 am • linkreport

For you ANC6B folks - email forwarded to me regarding a meet and greet tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 20th)

October 20: EMMCA ANC6B Meet and Greet

Our neighborhood hasn't had an opportunity like this in all the years that we've lived here — that would be about 20 years! There are more candidates in ANC6B than in any other area of the city. Who knows why, but you can find out on Wednesday, October 20 from 6 to 8 PM by meeting the candidates and asking them why they think they should represent you.

Sometimes people discount the importance of ANCs, but in an area like ours that is ripe for development, the ANC is the critical player, meant to represent the interests of residents. Help shape the community you call "home". Come to the ANC6B Candidates Meet and Greet sponsored by EMMCA — Eastern Market Metro Community Association.

When: Wednesday, October 20, 6 – 8 pm
Where: North Hall of Eastern Market (7th Street & NC Avenue).

by Lynda on Oct 20, 2010 9:03 am • linkreport

Kirsten Oldenburg, our 6B04 Commissioner, is wonderful! And, "trulee" deserves to be re-elected. She listens to everyone and helps find and broker solutions to problems in her single member district. No problem is too small or too big for her to tackle. She participates in all community meetings, ANC and otherwise, and reports back to constituents constantly through her email list. I don't know how she finds the time to be so committed to her ANC duties. But she does. Ward 6 Tommy Wells and many others have endorsed her re-election. Check out what they say at her website

by Trulee Happy on Oct 21, 2010 5:51 am • linkreport

From what I have heard neither opposition candidates in the 6b02 race is even willing to look at options to the current routing of Pennsylvania avenue. The current pattern makes makes pedestrian crossing a hazard and seperates 8th street from 7th street. Maybe this is the best that can be done. But let us look at options. Refusing to look at options is hardly the openess called for. As for Hine development, it needs to be sufficient scale to be economic. We want city services and without private development we won't have the money to pay for them. 35 year resident of Capitol Hill. By the way who is damaging Mary's signs?

by Sonia on Oct 25, 2010 10:30 pm • linkreport

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