GW junior Steven Mandelbaum was named to the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission last month after a recount gave him a one-vote margin of victory.
Mandelbaum, who staged a write-in campaign, claimed the seat in single-member district 2A06 given to GW employee Gregory Scoma after the election Nov. 3. Mandelbaum defeated Scoma and incumbent Sara Maddux with 34 votes in the recount. He is the first GW student ever elected to the ANC, which advises the city council on local matters, including University construction proposals and zoning issues.
Maddux requested a recount because the race was so close. The preliminary count gave Scoma a victory with 34 votes, followed by Maddux with 33 votes and Mandelbaum with 29 votes.
“In the recount, the two named candidates showed 33 and 33 votes,” said Alice Miller, executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. “Mr. Mandelbaum also had 33 votes. In addition, he had one write-in vote that was not punched, which took him over to 34.”
Mandelbaum said he was surprised about the victory and is excited to serve on the ANC.
“It’s a little different perspective,” Mandelbaum said. “But as a community, all our problems are the same.”
Mandelbaum will serve in the two-year position with four local residents and Richard Sheehey, a recent GW graduate, who comprise ANC 2A.
Foggy Bottom’s ANC commissioners have gained a reputation for in-fighting during meetings, which many say has hindered their ability to create significant change in the community. But Mandelbaum said he believes the new commission will be more productive.
“We’re going to all start to work together,” Mandelbaum said. “We are all on the same wavelength.”
He said he also hopes to have input in the decision-making process for projects GW presents to the ANC.
GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said he is excited to see how a student on the ANC will fare.
“There are cities where there have been students on local government agencies for a long time and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Trachtenberg said. “It’s nice that new blood goes into the job, so I hope he does well.”
He said he is concerned with the low voter turnout during the ANC elections.
“It’s scary . not that he won by one vote, but that there were so few votes in the first place.”
Trachtenberg said he hopes Mandelbaum weighs issues based on merit and keeps an open mind.
“What bothers us is when we have people voting (against GW projects) just because it is a University proposal – just out of spite,” he said.
Scoma, who works for GW’s University Police, did not return phone calls requesting comment.