Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Better Know Your ANC Candidates: ANC 1A02

The first in our Better Know Your ANC Candidates series is fightin' ANC 1A02, which you can see at right. The idea with these posts is that you can learn about who is running for the ANC in your area and if you'd like, be able to learn more about them via their websites or emails. The ANC advises the city council on local issues and also can issue grants, hold events, and approve or deny liquor licenses.

Currently Vickey Wright-Smith is the commissioner of ANC 1A02, and she's running against Alex Gallo. Here's their questions. First is incumbent Vickey-Wright Smith:


1. Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Vickey A. Wright-Smith.  I have lived in ANC 1A since 1988 when I came to DC to attend law school at Howard University.  I am married to Alvon Smith a lifelong resident of ANC1A and I have one child a 15 year old daughter, Victoria who attends McKinley Technology High School

2. Why are you running for ANC?

I am running for the ANC to bring a different voice to the commission.  I have a voice with new ideas but it is also one that will not forget about the residents that have been here in DC for a while.  Additionally, I want to make sure that residents and or businesses feel that they are being treated fairly.

 3. What are the biggest issues confronting your district?

The biggest issues confronting my single member district are drug dealing, parking, vacant and abandoned buildings, trash, rats and safety.

 4. What do you think the ANC can do better?

I think the ANC can do a better job of reaching out to the community and finding out what are the concerns of the residents.  Because in my opinion sometimes we push issues that are important to us individually, but are not that much of a concern for the community.

 5. What do you think the area needs more of?

I would like to see this area provide more things for teenagers to do.  This is especially important to me because I have a teenage daughter.  We have a lot of teens in this area that just loiter and sell drugs.  I know we have the recreation center, but I would like to see a little more.  I can’t think of very many things for the teens to do in my single member district.  I know there are some organizations that operate out of St. Stephen’s church, but it still does not seem like enough.

6. One of the ANC's jobs is to regulate liquor licenses. What are your thoughts on these issues?

 I would like to see more consistency in granting liquor licenses.  Some businesses seem to have no problem at all in getting a license, whereas others have a difficult time.

Campaign website, Facebook, Twitter, email, phone number or other information:
I do have a campaign website it is a Facebook page, VickeyA. Wright-Smith for ANC 1A02

Additionally, I will be having a fundraiser  “Wobble and Gobble with Commissioner Wright-Smith” on October 6, 2012 at Zeba, which is located at 3423 14th Street, NW.  The cost is $10.00.  This will be an opportunity to learn line dances (specifically the “Wobble”) and meet me and let me know what your concerns are for our community.  It should be a very fun time.  There will be refreshments and the event will be from 5pm to 8pm.  If you are interested in purchasing a ticket contact me at vawsesq@yahoo.com or 202-361-6139.


And next is challenger Alex Gallo:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm not what you'd call a typical political candidate here in the District. I'm brutally honest, accessible, transparent, polite and enjoy having fruitful discussions with residents of all stripes. When I see a problem, I strive to fix it- whether it's my job or not.

I have been a District resident for 7 years now. Recently, I've served as president and founder of the Allegro Tenants Association. In this capacity I have been a strong advocate for our tenants' rights during interactions with the property management, as well as representing the tenants in a TOPA action during the property's sale this summer. I bring a proven track record of success dealing with both industry and District agencies.

Prior to my arrival in the District, I was born and raised in New York. I graduated from George Washington University and now work full-time at a think tank.

2. Why are you running for ANC?

It's become obvious to me, and probably to your readers, that we need new faces at all levels of District governance. Obviously the real progress must occur at the mayoral and council level, but let's not forget how much impact the ANCs have on our communities. Is there space for your car on your block? Is your corner liquor store a breeding ground for crime? Are you permitted to install a deck on your home? Is a local business treading water while it waits for ANC approval? The ANC determines all of these things.

As such, I'm running to support our neighborhood's continued improvement. I believe there is no longer a place for vagrants, hooligans or crime dens in our community and I will work tirelessly to make them a thing of the past. I will wholeheartedly support new businesses and help them quickly navigate the city bureaucracy. In short, I welcome progress.

3. What are the biggest issues confronting your district?

Crime continues to be the most consequential issue facing northern Columbia Heights. Thefts from automobiles are unacceptably common and so are petty muggings. Street harrassment (usually sexual) is a correlated problem and one which has gone unaddressed for far too long. It's time for the community to forcefully address these issues by ensuring appropriate attention from MPD and the judiciary. Letters of community input- signed by the ANCs- can go a long way in sentencing hearings and can prevent the reemergence of repeat offenders in Columbia Heights. The installation of MPD cameras on problematic corners is another solution I intend to pursue, as well as establishing a mechanism to report and identify catcallers.

Parking availability is issue #2. I support additional reasonable restrictions on street parking within ANC 1A, such as the Enhanced RPP program.

4. What do you think the ANC can do better?

ANCs across the city are lacking in outreach and engagement. Commissioners spend too much time cowtowing to their small base of supporters and not enough effort engaging voters at large. Here in Columbia Heights, motions sometimes seem to appear out of thin air without notification to most residents. For example, there is now a proposal to prohibit single beer sales. Unfortunately, nobody ever called D'Vines to ask them how such a regulation could crimp their business or their customers' choices.

Here in Columbia Heights, the ANC could better advocate for residents in city-wide processes. For example, hosting a candidate's forum would ensure the voices of ANC 1A residents are heard downtown. Informing residents of District government actions would also be beneficial.

5. What do you think the area needs more of?

1. Families. If the neighborhood can reach the point where residents don't feel the need to move in order to raise a family, we can really say Mission Accomplished. There's nothing wrong with Columbia Heights being a great landing pad for new District residents, but families are what really holds a community together. I see that currently lacking in ANC 1A.

2. Bus routes (quantity and efficiency). There is currently no good way to get from Columbia Heights to Dupont Circle or Georgetown. I will advocate for a new Circulator route to achieve just that.

6. One of the ANC's jobs is to regulate liquor licenses. What are your thoughts on these issues?

I take the position that ANC micromanagement of a business is generally not helpful. There are already enough layers of unresponsive bureaucracy in town; entrepreneurs need not bow to yet another. I do however fully support bringing all liquor regulation within the purview of the ANCs for open and fair hearings, thus eliminating the "gang of 5" shenanigans.

At the same time, a liquor license is not a constitutional right. My opponent in this race voted to keep open the DC Fish Carryout, an establishment which was raided for distribution of crack cocaine. Based on the preponderance of evidence (two of the suspects have since plead guilty), I would have voted to revoke their license.

While I would oppose a blanket ban on single sales which reduces consumer choice of craft beef, there are compelling reasons to prohibit the sale of cheap singles to the homeless. Some other jurisdictions use minimum pricing schemes and/or ID restrictions, the feasibility of which I would be interested in exploring. This could help alleviate the alleyway vagrancy problems which exist in Columbia Heights.

Campaign website, Facebook, Twitter, email, phone number or other information:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/movedcforward
Twitter: http://twitter.com/movedcforward
And I can of course always be reached via email at: movedcforward@gmail.com

8 comments:

JQ said...

Nice post -- look forward to reading more interviews with the remaining ANC candidates.

Eric said...

I will second what JQ said. Look forward to seeing more of these.

Kate said...

Is this a joke? Like, did you pull both these people from DC stereotypes? I don't even understand how this happens. Alex Gallo wants to preserve the right of people to buy singles of craft beer ("beef" [sic]) but deny homeless people the right to buy cheap beer, which...right. Yeah. I love his bold stand against crackheads. Can't wait until Vickey wins!

Glad to have these guys profiled; keep up the good work, New Columbia Heights.

Kate said...

(I didn't mean the last sentence sarcastically - am really glad to have an opportunity to learn more about who's running in local ANC races.)

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to work with New Columbia Heights and others to sponsor a couple of ANC forums at the CH Civic Plaza. The role of the ANC is actually more critical than these questions would imply. And should not be just a personality contest. For example, one of the reasons for so much corruption and pay to play out of the Council Member's office is our relatively weak ANCs.


William

Andrew W said...

William, a forum is not a bad idea. How would it work though? There are 34 candidates. You can email me at newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Question: I live on the south side of Ogden Street - am I part of ANC 1A02 or 1A01?

Andrew W said...

The line runs down the middle of the street