Former Student Association President Kris Hart is challenging Dorothy Miller, who has lived in Washington since World War II, for her seat on a local board that helps make zoning decisions in Foggy Bottom.
The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission represents area residents and makes recommendations to the Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment on issues relevant to the community. Miller, who serves as the ANC’s chairperson, is a vocal mouthpiece for the group and her allegations against the University are often controversial. For years, the ANC has challenged GW’s expansion in Foggy Bottom. Hart said he is running because Miller does not want dialogue with the University and has no desire to achieve real progress on neighborhood issues.
“Right now in Foggy Bottom, we have some commissioners on our ANC who are always negative, and they always seem to be fighting,” Hart said. “They’re not looking to achieve progress. They’re more interested in being divisive rather than bringing people together.”
Because Hart did not file his petition and paperwork on time to run for the office, he said will be running as a write-in candidate. Senior Graham Long, the only student who serves on the ANC, said he empathizes with Hart’s situation.
“It’s a complicated thing,” Long said. “When I was originally intending to run for re-election, I was misled on the time period to get the petitions in.”
“The Board of Elections has a lot going on, and there are over 200 ANC commissioners in the city, so they have a lot of work. It’s hard to find someone with all the right information,” he added.
Miller has accused GW of destroying the character of Foggy Bottom and said she is clearly a stronger candidate.
“As a resident, there’s no question why (you should vote for me),” she said. “GW has never done anything good for the neighborhood.”
The ANC election, which takes place Nov. 2 along with the presidential and congressional race, is typically marked by voter turnouts of less than 50. Only students registered to vote in the District can cast their ballots in the election.
Miller accused GW of operating as a business and alienating its students.
“They’re in the real estate business. What do you get for $45,000? You get damn little,” she said. “Lousy food, lousy housing accommodations, lousy everything. The only thing they are is interested in is themselves.”
Long echoed Hart’s sentiments that Miller seems to focus on fighting while failing to achieve reasonable compromise.
“I don’t have a problem with her as a person, but she doesn’t seem to be interested getting anything done,” Long said. “She seems more interested in being hostile.”
“I think a lot of residents see her as a resource, but I think that she’s gotten so angry about certain issues that she doesn’t want to come together on any issue,” he added. “It seems like she hates the University even being there.”
Although Hart is a student, he said he has no biases and would not be manipulated by the University. He seemed to emphasize with Foggy Bottom residents angry over GW’s increasingly large student body and construction in the area.
“I have no allegiance to GW … my allegiance would be the citizens,” he said. “I love Foggy Bottom because it’s down to earth and a nice community … GW keeps adding more and more students without considering size and parking and all of these issues.”
Hart stressed the need for contact between the ANC and GW administration and said that GW is not as unreasonable as some residents make it out to be.
“Although Trachtenberg can be a pain in the ass, he’s also rational when people come with rational considerations,” he said. “I’ve debated Steve on numerous issues, and he has conceded before.”
Trachtenberg would not comment on the election, but his distaste for Miller and some other residents is well known. When Hart announced his candidacy at a May Board of Trustees meeting, he was cheered by most board members, including Trachtenberg.
In an interview last week, Trachtenberg said he would take a “non-participatory” role in the election but chided the ANC for trying to thwart GW’s ambitions.
He said, “I think the ANC has been negative and in the hands of a couple of people far too long.”
–Michael Barnett and Ryan Holeywell contributed to this report.