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For ANC in Ward 8

Ward 8, the poorest ward in DC and often the most misunderstood or overlooked, needs a voice. It needs strong community leaders who want to devote their energy to improving the ward's neighborhoods and building consensus among residents.

It needs people ready to put the good of others ahead of their own political advantage. It needs community leaders who are not only passionate and vocal but who are also capable and qualified. Ward 8 is in need politically of what it has long advocated in services and business: more quality and diverse options.

Unfortunately, Ward 8's ANCs generally do not have this. Either languishing due to a lack of community buy-in, or frustration, or both, historically most Ward 8 ANC positions sat vacant or hosted the same cast of characters year after year, often with more emphasis on petty infighting than community progress.

As a result, many ANC meetings feature more drama than accomplishments and direction. Some commissioners spend more energy trying to silence the voices of others they disagree with rather than find new solutions and perspectives to old problems. Unfortunately, in too many Ward 8 ANCs there is no such thing as constructive criticism or accountability.

For every consensus building, forward thinking, qualified commissioner there are often too many others eager to drown them out in order to maintain the status quo. And the cycle of apathy continues. In a ward where the councilmember is often referred to as "Mayor for Life" it should be no surprise that there are some ANC commissioners who feel they should be "Commissioners for Life."

But change is coming. It's not just in the form of new 30-something professionals moving to Ward 8, but in the form of native Ward 8 residents who sat on the sidelines waiting for opportunities and allies to make a positive impact on their communities.

This year, the list of challengers has more than doubled from the last election. Neighbors have become the cheerleaders and recruiters for change in their own neighborhoods, from both sides of the generational gap.

We therefore are endorsing the majority of challengers in Ward 8 ANCs. In many races, we know the challenger's specific ideas and how they would do a better job; in other cases, it's simply valuable to get some new faces and new ideas into moribund ANCs.

ANC 8C perhaps the District's most dysfunctional ANC, which is saying a lot. It has been been investigated by the DC Auditor for a number of problems, including allegedly paying rent for an office they never use, which was never approved by the commission according to ANC statue, and hasn't had a working phone line in over six years. This led to the DC government withholding the annual appropriation it normally gives to all ANCs.

Chair Mary Cuthbert, whose district 8C03 spans St. Elizabeth's East to capture small sections of Barry Farm and Congress Heights, was involved in disbursing the questionable funds and called her opponent, Larry Pretlow, a "dumb n*gger."

We don't think Pretlow is dumb but some constituents say they would prefer a ham sandwich to Commissioner Cuthbert. At the very least, the ham sandwich would be less combative. We urge voters to do better than a ham sandwich and pick Pretlow.

Adjacent commissioner Dion Jordan doesn't attend ANC meetings or meet with residents of his SMD, 8C02, which also covers small parts of Barry Farm and Congress Heights across St. Elizabeth's West. Residents can do much better with LaShaun Smith, a former blogger who wrote under the name Southeast Socialite and who has made clear her desire for a more transparent, functional and inclusive ANC. Some may accuse her of being direct and harsh on crime, but in a SMD that has seen a recent uptick in car jackings and armed robberies, residents need a commissioner who is not only available for meetings but is direct enough to do something about the crime.

One exception to ANC 8C's dysdunction is treasurer (and unofficially secretary, sergeant-at-arms, and community liaison) William Ellis in Barry Farm's 8C01. After a bumpy start, he has proven to be the only commissioner willing to follow DC laws and the DC Auditor's recommendations, and willing to admit publicly and honestly, when and where the commission falls short. We support him for another term over challenger Zaccai Free.

Residents compare southern Congress Heights 8C07 Commissioner Cardell Shelton to Grandpa on The Simpsons for his way of constantly yelling, complaining and fist shaking, but with less grasp of facts. He is the formal secretary of the commission but doesn't take meeting minutes and didn't even respond to the DC Auditor's findings. Meanwhile, Brenda Shields is executive director of a nonprofit and owns her own business. She could bring business and organizational skills that 8C desperately needs.

Anacostia is Ward 8's most diverse and growing neighborhood, and while their ANC is probably the most successful at accomplishing community and ANC tasks, ANC 8A needs to reach out more to new residents. Our hope is that David White would do this as an ANC commissioner in 8A05 in Historic Anacostia. The incumbent, Carolyn Bridges-Ward, is not a change agent; she in fact publicly defended Marion Barry after the most recent scandal, saying nobody was perfect. That's true, but the ward can do a lot better in many ways, including with their 8A05 commissioner.

Darrell Gaston, who represents the Woodland neighborhood in 8B03, is a common sight around the community and aspiring politician (he ran against Marion Barry in the last Ward 8 Council election), but hasn't accomplished much and seems to focus more on raising his profile than solving problems. Gaston has also been quoted several times complaining of the influx of "newcomers" who have moved into the Ward. Gaston seems to focus more on the percieved differences in socioeconomic status among residents than the things that bring them together.

Shipley Terrace's 8B06 commissioner Mitchell Hawkins, by his own admission, doesn't read about or keep current on community issues and lacks good comprehension of simple concepts. In fact, residents in this area say that ANC 8B meetings are very painful, and few commissioners seem to know what is going on.

While we don't have a lot of information about several challengers, we feel this problematic ANC needs some changes, and therefore recommend challengers India Blocker (against Gaston in 8B03), Charles Turner (against Hawkins in 8B06), and Louise Thorne (against 8B07 commissioner Von Pariss in the Shipley Terrace and Douglass neighborhoods).

Commissioner Karlene Armstead in 8E06, split between Congress Heights and Washington Highlands, is another longtime activist who seems more focused on being in charge than being right. Residents have voiced concerns about her inability to listen, few accomplishments, and combative tone with others. She does appear passionate and committed to a safer community but her attitude can turn off residents, especially residents voicing a different opinion or perspective. She seems resistant to any changes that she is not personally in charge of.

We endorse challenger Angela Hooker, who (if campaign signs are any indication) also has the support of at least one current commissioner and a fellow candidate in ANC 8E.

We are hopeful and inspired at such an overwhelming show of community activism across the Ward 8 ANC races. Regardless of who wins or loses the individual SMD races as a whole, the perspective and perception of Ward 8 politics as foregone conclusion is changing—one single-member district at a time.


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might be worth mentioning Charles Wilson, who is running for ANC 8A04. He is technically unopposed, but popular incumbent Mike Jones is running a write-in campaign after getting his petition signatures from all across the Ward.

Charles Wilson is the founder of the Historic Anacostia Block Association, founder of River East Emerging Leaders, a member of the DC Bar, and former candidate for Ward 8 Council. And just a really nice guy who wants to see the neighborhood improve.

by DG-rad on Oct 28, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

Last night (10/27) Mr. Pretlow held the RESHAPE WARD 8 Meeting at the UPO Petey Greene Center - Not only where there ANC Commissioners there from around the city, there were Candidates and community members who spoke with him and he LISTENS!!! He's not arrogant! He's very humble! He's an Advocate! That's what we need.

He's not running to slam Cuthbert. He's running to bring some new and freshly engergetic Advocancy!!!

I ask all 8C03 voters to pick PRETLOW as well!

by ShawnTurner8C03 on Oct 28, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

It's going to be hilarious, name-wise, if India Blocker turns out to be an anti.

by Gavin on Oct 28, 2010 11:45 am • linkreport

So you basically endorse all the challengers based off of? If the incumbents are tied to doing nothing, the challengers tied to a message that they're not the incumbent, what exactly does your endorsement hear mean? Didn't you get this straight the last round?

People don't vote for those they don't like. I didn't know that Lashawn woman was running for anything but it's foolish of you to suggest that "attitudes don't matter." They do and we are seeing this made true all across the country. Ward 8 in SE is no different. Maybe she will win but fortunately I don't have to vote for her. She's not just crass, she's an embarassment to those who really want to do things in their our community. If we wanted another Michelle Rhee, we would have voted for her former boss. This raving lunatic introduced herself as a "take no prisoners, I don't care what you say, I won't speak to people if I don't feel like it" type of human species. Now she wants our votes?

This entire list of endorsements reads like it was taken off of someone else's blog and I question to what extent you talked with people in the community. It would at least explain how you arrive at the conclusion that residents ignore her "directness" and vote for her anyway. Please.

Michelle Rhee was direct and where is she now.

I have no idea who Carolyn Bridges is but unlike others, I don't think she should be unseated because she that everybody makes mistakes. Don't they?

Oh I forgot, Marion Barry is the person who should be talked badly about at all times. Saying anything remotely similar to NOT bashing him is so very wrong.

This is the typical "scare tactic" that has become all too common. Marion Barry is Louis Farakhan or Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson or whoever you make him out to be.

by HogWash on Oct 28, 2010 12:53 pm • linkreport

This series of endorsements, and the comments it has attracted, have convinced me that the ANC system should be abolished.

by jcm on Oct 28, 2010 1:34 pm • linkreport

This wasn't too well researched, and therefore not as helpful as we would have liked. You ding the incumbent Carolyn Bridges-Ward in 8A05 for supporting Marion Barry and not being a change agent, but David White poses with Barry on his flier and he was an ANC in the 90's. Sooo, we're back in square one, needing more substantial info.

by concerned Ward 8 res on Oct 28, 2010 5:19 pm • linkreport

Hmmm...interesting and insightful.

by Darrin Davis on Oct 28, 2010 6:41 pm • linkreport

Greetings Greater Greater Washington....

First before I mention my accomplishments as a first time ANC, let me address some issues at hand. Rising my profile is something that I need not to do. I have no issue with newcomers, and have stated on a numerous of occasions that we are one Ward. There is an difference between complaining and stating facts over opinion. So I respect your choice to endorse my challenger who you know nothing about.

Now on my to accomplishments, you do not know them because you are not in my community, you do not call when your child needs to get back in school, or when your looking for employment. So if getting 60 percent of my streets repaved with 90 days of me becoming ANC is not an accomplishment, idk what is, or getting over 45 adults enrolled in UDC, or 70 residents careers and not just jobs. Or the fact that I am on the scenes and far best one of the most accessible commissioners. So it seems to me and I agree from reading the comments that you are not so well researched.

by Darrell Gaston on Oct 28, 2010 6:48 pm • linkreport

Correction******* RAISING*********

by darrell gaston on Oct 28, 2010 7:02 pm • linkreport

Hmm, GGW, after reading Gatson's post, I do have to wonder again from where/whom did you receive your information? Do you have any evidence confirming that you are more correct about what he has done than he is himself? Do you know if what Gatson says is true?

Your knock against Carolyn is that she hasn't said anything bad about Barry. Your knock against this guy is that he's an aspiring politician who complains about the "influx" of newcomers into our community. As a voting member of this community, what should I take from that? How does it help me decide for whom I will cast my vote? It doesn't.

The tactic you use here is the same, exact, one used by Fenty/Rhee supporters. You have deficient knowledge of what we in Ward 8 want and will go so far as to totally mischaracterize others motivation in an effort to divide us. Most Fenty/Rhee cosigned the idea that the "people" in DC were anti-reform imbeciles who cared nothing about our kids. Now you're cosigning the divisive skullduggery of Ward 8's newer residents who are content with castigating all who don't agree with their methods.

It was wrong then to paint Gray supporters with a broad brush of recessive thought. It is wrong now to paint Ward 8 residents as those who don't want their communities to do better - much.

It's wrong. Wrong. Wrong. And I hope that going forward you consider the positions you take and the information used in arriving at them.

More sugarplums regarding Lashan's harshness and directness such as: "All those that have held a seat with ANC 8C for over 5 years, ya’ll gotta go! MOVE ON! Better yet, JUST MOVE OUT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD into PG County.” and "We didn’t want to put it out there, because we didn’t want them to know, the older people to know what was brewing. But that is a plan.”</> can be found at: interesting dialogue on Ward's 7&8.

by HogWash on Oct 29, 2010 11:09 am • linkreport

These comments are very entertaining at best. I want what everyone in the neighborhood wants, a Safe, clean environment. All that comment on my being harsh have never dashed from their car at night out of fear of being car jacked. And they have not had their neighbors robbed at gun point. They also might not have seen the mother of a murdered 18 year old at church sobbing. Enough is enough. We can not baby sit criminals and turn a blind eye to what is happening. We deserve to be able to enjoy our neighborhood.

by LaShaun Smith on Oct 29, 2010 11:36 am • linkreport

@Lashawn, it is indeed unfortunate that you continue to see those opposed to your methods as subjects of perpetual humor and entertainment. You and other members of your organization had the same approach in regards to (re)naming our Wards to something you felt comfortable with. You felt that the ends will justify the means. Many times it does not.

I think Michelle Rhee is the perfect parallel to you and your supporters. She too, recognized the decadian dysfunction in DCPS and launched an all-out, self-serving war against not just the teachers but entire parts of the city opposed to her methods. At least she acknowledges it somewhat now - albeit a tad bit too late. She decided she was going to sweep DC clean, rid it of "those people" set on keeping DC at the bottom. OTOH, (and if others are correct) you believe that parts of Ward 8 should be blown up and our older neighborhors should be kept in the dark about you and your organizations plans.

In a perfect world, we should ignore your obvious play with words and see that you genuinely want what's best for us and vote accordingly. Michelle Rhee and Fenty thought the same.

I don't know anyone who doesn't want a Safe clean environment. I guess I should say that fortunately, I don't know anyone nor have I experienced a neighbor being robbed nor have I resorted to dashing out of my car over fear of being car jacked. To be honest, that sounds like something you hear about in Pakistan. But that should in no way discount your obviously bad experiences living here.

Without a doubt, I fully understand in advance that nothing I (or those opposed to your methods) say will cause you to rethink the divisive and incendiary tactics you have adopted. Like Michelle Rhee, you and your supporters have made no secret your disdain for those who disagree with you. But remember, you are seeking a position requiring people to vote for you.

You seem like such a smart, intelligent woman with a great potential to not just make changes - but lead. Michelle Rhee wasn't interested in leading. If you are elected, I do hope you won't follow suit, lest you end up a cross between Rhee and Seegars who both are prone and wholeheartedly believe in telling it like it is.

I think a great example of how to run a campaign is this Pretlow guy. Considering his youth and inexperience, I have questioned his ability to deliver half of what he says. But he would have my vote anyway. Not because he ran a campaign of niceness but that he didn't allow himself to get bogged down with the same tired arguments and attacks on those who disagree with him. It's also why I voted for somebody (Charles wilson) I didn't even know nor heard of as my Ward 8 rep the last go round instead of Barry.

Go Pretlow!!!!!!!! and sorry for the length

by HogWash on Oct 29, 2010 2:25 pm • linkreport

Sorry and I should add that many of us get really tired of the assumption that we aren't interested in progress just because we have the audacity to have an opinion that "seems" at odds with your own. Many of us witnessed it during this election cycle where we Gray supporters were accused of not supporting school reform just because we didn't support Fenty. We experienced the same when we had the audacity to support the democratic candidate for president who happened to be black over the person we were supposed</> to vote for. We didn't know better - at least that was the narrative.

Let's learn. Not repeat.

by HogWash on Oct 29, 2010 2:34 pm • linkreport

"You and other members of your organization had the same approach in regards to (re)naming our Wards to something you felt comfortable with."

@HogWash. What in the world, are you talking about? I am assuming you are talking about R.E.E.L. of which I know Ms. Smith is not a member (but if she was so what?).

I can only think of one person (an ANC Commissioner no less) who seems to have this hard one for r.e.e.l. I am not going to call that person out by name (although they really need to grow up less someone calls them out - ADAM4ADAM). The only other person who seems to have this hard on for the challenger, Ms. Smith is the incumbent and he has been salty ever since the neighborhood chose to no longer support him because he stopped going to ANC meetings 6 months ago.

Let us just stop the foolishness. Ward 8 is already considered a joke by the rest of the city, no need to prove them right. Just vote your conscious and let that be it.

Regardless of who wins, I am just happy to see that finally in Ward 8 we have some choices. It is up to use to choose but thank God we have some real choices this time.

by Get a grip. on Oct 29, 2010 3:22 pm • linkreport

@ Hogwash- Thank you for your interest. I have no knowledge of this "Organization" you speak of.
@Get a grip- I too am happy that there are more people with new ideas and perspectives running for ANC seats across the board in our ward. People are really taking interest and volunteering their free time to work together and create a safe, clean environment for everyone to enjoy. That makes me happy.

by LaShaun Smith on Oct 29, 2010 3:38 pm • linkreport

You know what would be great - for Michelle Rhee to move to Ward 8 and run for ANC. Not that she would win, but just for the entertainment value of HogWash's posts on the matter.

by Fritz on Oct 29, 2010 3:47 pm • linkreport



by Get a grip. on Oct 29, 2010 3:51 pm • linkreport

@GaG, thanks for the correction. I incorrectly associated her with the organization and that was wrong. Duly noted. However your other points were rather irrelevant and emblematic of what I mentioned earlier when saying "how dare we disagree with you." So there's no confusion I have no idea how "others" may feel about REEL and no little about Smith beyond the online personality she chose for herself w.her bloggin. All the other stuff u said is rather irrelvant since I know not one thing about the mystery people u mention here.

@LS, again duly noted. U are not a member of REEL but I do find your claim of having no knowledge of its existence rather odd. However, after acknowledging my ridiculously visceral reaction in my first post, I do hope you have learned valuable lessons in communication after disabling your blog and the most recent mayoral election results. it really does matter.

by Hogwash on Oct 29, 2010 4:49 pm • linkreport

Fritz- that's hilarious! Lol "Rhee for ANC". Lol

by LaShaun Smith on Oct 29, 2010 9:40 pm • linkreport

Well, I just wish Greater Greater Washington did more research or follow up, or ask a serious of questions to candidates and incumbents. But I am really glad that ANC Races across the city and esp. in W8 are really starting to get ppl who really care and make changes and want to work together. But I do caution everyone who thinks they can make change by becoming an ANC because you are only one person, you need a majority in the case of Ward 8(Except 8C) u need at least four ppl to see it your way. Ppl do not understand the level of time and commitment it is for being a Commissioner. Having ppl call you at 5am, and begin to live a public life. So if you think you can do this job cause you care about your community, think again it takes more then caring about your community to fix your community. police can not make your community safe, you have to educate the residents on the importance of having a safe community. but I wish everyone luck on Tuesday and for myself, win or loose, I will continue to fight for my community and advocate for my ward.

@HogWash, you really need to research your info on Pretlow, trust me as a young person who wants to see him succeed, he has not ran a positive campaign. But i wish him well come tuesday

by Darrell Gaston on Oct 30, 2010 4:38 am • linkreport

I was searching Internet materials and I happen to engage in this one article, again..

The quote from above "Shipley Terrace's 8B06 commissioner Mitchell Hawkins, by his own admission, doesn't read about or keep current on community issues and lacks good comprehension of simple concepts. In fact, residents in this area say that ANC 8B meetings are very painful, and few commissioners seem to know what is going on."

A blog is just the editors way of telling its own story... This distorted and scrambled quote was captured from a one time occasion where I was contacted by local media -Titled: Do I think Barry should resign? - My response as not being aware of the current issues was strictly my answer to that particular subject. Who would've thought, (other than myself, that my response would become distorted by obvious standards of our local media- ONLY ME) That is exactly why I responded as such....

My Single Member District 8B06, would perhaps speak well of me, if asked individually. The atmospher of ANC public meetings is somewhat accurate but, my single actions and ideas does not determine the atmosphere of the ANC-8B group as a whole. - "Lack good comprehension of simple concepts", I don't know where that one came from...

I noticed that this particular BLOB, seems intended for everyone to run against the current Ward 8 ANC's.. That's fine for participation and to involve the community. But to speak negatively, twist phrases, and to have Blobbed in a way of which you did. It is downright disgusting.

What area residents have you spoken to, and then how long ago? I have been a ANC of the area now for 5 years. Had not seen or saw anything about an ANC 6 years prior to my decision to make a community difference. I am very pleased with my community's changes, growth and accomplishments, as well as its stable residents. Of course there is more to do, but some things can no happen single-handedly nor overnight... After re-reading and re-reading this same article over and over for the past year, I again, re-read the comments and thought is it even worth it to comment, because every applied also commented this Blob, simply as a BLOB, which is only the opinion of the author with no facts.

I thank you an opportunity to straighten and unscramble my telephone conversation inquiring a response to an entirely different question, yet to be used as the author's view to gain a community to think the exact same. I can be reached locally through public contacts for follow up.

by Mitchell Hawkins on Jun 30, 2011 2:23 pm • linkreport

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