Thursday, October 27, 2016

Know your ANC candidates: ANC1A01

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the upcoming elections, including the important Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which advises the DC Council on local planning issues and de facto controls alcohol licenses, among other things. Only a few of the races have multiple candidates, and I wrote to those folks. Here's the ANC 1A01, which is south of Spring Road from 16th to 14th, north of Ogden (see map above.)

Up next we'll have answers from candidates in 1A10 (east of Georgia roughly between Kenyon and Irving.) Here's the interviews for ANC1B01 and 1A07. The other races are unopposed. Here's the full list.

For more information on the elections, check out the city's Board of Elections site.

The two candidates in 1A01 are Valerie Baron and Ernest Johnson, who are going for an open seat -- incumbent Marvin L. Johnson is not running again.

Valerie Baron:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your qualifications
The first neighbor I met when I moved to my neighborhood, a longtime resident, greeted me by saying "you are welcome here." And ever since that time, I have felt at home. She has become like family and her warmth and kindness exemplified what I love about our diverse neighborhood, where with the right leadership, longtime and newer residents can thrive side-by-side and share a future. In the years since, I have seen a need for someone to be a strong advocate for this neighborhood that has given me so much.

I am a public interest attorney by profession, so I spend my days advocating for people who and perspectives that otherwise would not have a voice in our legal system. In my free time you might find me baking at home or on a long walk with my husband and our dog.

We need someone with the skills and experience to step up and communicate actively with neighbors, advocate for the policies and services that we need, and represent the interests of all the residents and businesses in SMD 1A01. I have the skills and experience to be that Commissioner:
  • Communicate. I am a natural communicator; I care about my neighbors’ concerns, and want to hear what you have to say. I also speak Spanish, which is important for maximizing my ability to communicate with residents of SMD 1A01. I will participate actively in email discourse and make sure to visit residents who do not use email. I will use every tool at my disposal to make sure that our needs are being heard by the District.
  • Advocate. As a public interest attorney, I have extensive experience advocating for causes I believe in. In the context of the ANC, a top-notch advocate can identify the most pressing needs, form strong relationships with relevant District officials, and cut through red tape. And as an attorney and environmental policy professional, I have the skills and experience necessary to form and digest complex proposals. I have the tenacity to see things through, even when the going gets tough.
  • Represent Everyone. We need a Commissioner for all of SMD 1A01. Fairness, inclusion, and affordability are top priorities for me, and I will bring these values to my term on the ANC. As a public interest attorney I am committed to always using my position to represent all. We need a Commissioner focused on creating a thriving community for everyone.
You can read more about my campaign at
Why are you running for ANC? What are your main platform issues?
I am running because I see a serious need for someone to step up and become the active, communicative, advocate we need to secure critical District services, and ensure that 1A01 is a place where everyone can thrive. We need a Commissioner who will Communicate, Advocate, and Represent Everyone in 1A01. I pledge to be that Commissioner.

In my SMD (1A01) we are concerned about securing District services and important quality of life issues: public safety, garbage on our streets, and general feelings of wellbeing and connectedness in our community. There is also a prevailing sense that we are too often overlooked by those in charge. Sometimes the fact that my SMD is on the border of the Ward and police district (as well as located in the corner of the ANC) can make this worse. I have observed that a few weeks of shoddy or absent garbage collection service does more than let the trash (and rodents) accumulate, it starts to tug at the fabric of our community. At the same time, some positive attention and responsiveness from the District can buoy and inspire us. Our relationship with the District matters and it affects our relationships with one another. Having a strong advocate who is good at building relationships can make a world of difference, and that is a primary reason I am running to represent the SMD 1A01
One of the ANC's main jobs is to regulate liquor licenses. What are your thoughts on these issues?

I see the main job of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners as being the voice of the neighborhood and ensuring that the District is working for and with neighbors and businesses. I see the Commission’s role in advising on liquor licenses as no different from this. A good Commissioner looks out for responsible businesses in her SMD. She also has the judgement to know when the liquor license process presents an opportunity to have a conversation between the business and neighbors and work through any challenges, and the negotiation skill to make this happen. I believe that I have the judgment and skill to work through the liquor license process in a way that involves clear communication with neighbors and businesses, advocates for the best policies, and represents the needs of all of SMD 1A01.
Ernest Johnson:
(Note: Ernest's response was a campaign mailer. I have tried to fit it into the questions.)
Tell us a bit about yourself and your qualifications
Ernest E. Johnson is a native Washingtonian and is your candidate for ANC Commissioner in Single Member District 1A01. He is a 25 year real estate professional that attended DC public schools Banneker and Cardozo. He spent six years at American University majoring in Business and the Administration of Justice. For more than 8-years he produced and hosted public affairs program on WAMU FM, now known as the “Politics Hour”.
Ernest has served on the board of directors for the Columbia Heights Development Corporation that brought DC USA to the 14th street corridor. He serves on the District of Columbia Apprenticeship Council, 3rd District Citizens Advisory Council and Chairs the ParkWood Back 2 School Committee.

Why are you running for ANC? What are your main platform issues?
My grandmother had a third grade education. She had a saying: “People don’t care how
much you know, until they know how much you care”. When violent crime increased in 1A01,
Ernest recruited some neighbors and adopted Raymond and Harriet Tubman Elementary Schools.
We host an annual block party that give kids back packs and school supplies. At this event we feed
the homeless and give senior residents gift bags. Entering our 4th year of operations, having gave
away over 1,000 back packs. When ParkWood Place, Center Street and Ogden Street needed asphalt repaving with pedestrian cross walks, Ernest contacted the Department of Transportation and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A01 and got the job done. As your ANC 1A Commissioner, Ernest will have a larger platform and more resources to complete the work he is already doing. Ernest will listen and learn from all residents and voice your concerns to the appropriate sources. Working together we can improve the quality of life for senior residents, children, homeowners and renters.


◆ Ernest is working with the District of Columbia Public Service Commission to ensure all senior homeowners have their property weatherized for the winter season.

◆ Ernest will request city funding to hire neighborhood youth to pick up trash and cut the grass in 1A01. Some residents have already pledged donations to start this fund.

One of the ANC's main jobs is to regulate liquor licenses. What are your thoughts on these issues?
(No answer provided on campaign mailer or via email)

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