Monday, November 5, 2018

Know your Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidates: 1A02, Amr Kotb


Let's meet the candidates in our local ANC races! Up next is Amr Kotb, who is running in ANC1A02 (see map.)

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission is a nonpartisan, elected body that advises city government on neighborhood issues and also has some power over liquor licenses. The ANC is made up of Single Member Districts that cover a few blocks and commissioners for those districts are elected to two-year terms. The opinions on the ANC are supposed to carry "great weight" at government agencies like the Planning Commission, Alcohol Board, Zoning Board and others, who hear applications for permits such as doing something outside of what's allowed (like maybe more square feet or fewer parking spaces for a building.) Commissioners can also help their constituents with city issues, such as missed trash collection or other problems, and can stop or force changes to liquor license applications and renewals as well.

There are two ANCs in our area: ANC1A covers northern Columbia Heights and Park View while ANC1B covers southern Columbia Heights, Pleasant Plains and part of the U Street and Shaw areas, and sadly only four races have more than one candidate -- the rest either have one or no official candidates. I sent the candidates in these contested races a questionnaire. Here is what Amr had to say. His opponent, Teresa A. Edmondson, did not respond to my emails.



Tell us about yourself.I am a 31 year-old DC resident who loves Columbia Heights and proving to people that Washington, DC is much more than lanyards, government jobs, and Farragut Square (not that I take issue with these things). I host/produce my own podcast, work in foreign affairs, and enjoy DC’s museums, running/playing soccer, reading, and meeting new people.

Why are you running for ANC?I’ve spent much of my adult life moving around in search of the lifestyle, city, and community that will bring me happiness. Columbia Heights (and Washington DC more broadly) is the place where I found my dream job, married my wife, and finally decided to put down my roots for the foreseeable future. Now that I am part of a community that means so much to me personally, it’s time to take this affinity to the next level by serving it and playing an integral role in preserving its unique identity and diversity.

What are your main priorities that you plan to work on, if elected?1. I want residents in my SMD to feel they have the power to make their voices heard on issues in our neighborhood. There are so many people out there that are unaware of the tools they have to assert themselves over what happens in their own community, so my top priority is to not only create a space where all of us can engage by holding regular town hall style meetings, but to also ensure that everyone is aware of the tools at their disposal through regular outreach.

2. I want to play an integral role in questions of business and residential development and am enthusiastic about ensuring that smart, equitable development, rooted in an understanding of our community’s well-established identity, is the only kind that takes place. For example, new businesses that come to the neighborhood should prioritize hiring vacancies for local residents that are directly affected by the presence of such businesses.

3. I believe in the value of public space and the implications it holds for safety and security. The more thriving, diverse, and accessible a neighborhood, the safer we all feel because we have a place in it within a larger community. As such, I will push for more parks that are sufficiently equipped with accessible recreational and leisure activities for all of our residents. My top priority for public space is the park at 14th and Oak/Ogden; not only is it practically devoid of greenery, but the available seating is incredibly inhospitable and uncomfortable.

One of the ANC's main duties is to regulate liquor licenses. What are your thoughts on these issues?A liquor license is a double-edged sword. On one hand, an establishment’s possession of a liquor license can potentially equate to long hours of operation that disrupt the neighborhood with respect to noise, overcrowding, and the risk of intoxicated patrons destroying property. On the other hand, development via private businesses serving alcohol attracts economic activity to our neighborhood, and can be good for other local businesses. As such, I will seek to regulate liquor licenses on a case by case basis, prioritizing the existing community’s needs and concerns over all other issues, while also being mindful of the potential for equitable economic development. Businesses seeking liquor licenses are expected to respect the role of the ANC, so I will also be looking to see if they approach our commission from the get-go and are amenable to the community’s feedback.

How can voters get in touch with you?
Phone Number: 804.516.9805
Email: AmrouKotb@gmail.com
Address: 1435 Newton St. NW Apt. 109
Facebook Page: ‘Amr for ANC’ or search for ‘@AmrforANC1A02’
Twitter: @amrqotb



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