A special election will be held in March to fill the vacant seat on the Foggy Bottom Advisory Neighborhood Commission because a commissioner moved out of the neighborhood last month.
Two area residents, Michael Thomas and Richard Moore, have already announced their candidacies for the seat on the board, which makes zoning recommendations to the city. Anyone interested in running for the seat has to file with the city by Feb. 6.
The election is scheduled to take place at the March 15 ANC meeting since two residents have already filed for the seat, said the commission’s chair, Vince Micone. The vacant seat represents a portion of Foggy Bottom’s ANC, 2A, between Pennsylvania Avenue and N Street from 20th to 27th streets.
Thomas was president of the Foggy Bottom Association in 1998, when GW negotiated the Campus Plan, which is a legal agreement between the University and the local community that places a cap on undergraduate enrollment and states that all freshmen and sophomores must live within campus boundaries.
“It’s in my nature to be involved in the community,” Thomas said.
A lawyer who retired in 1994, Thomas has also been on the GW Hospital’s Board of Trustees and is president of his building’s resident association.
Thomas said he believes that one of the biggest issues facing the local ANC is Square 54, which the University wants to use for mixed-use development including retail, office space and market-rate apartments. In order to develop the land in such a way, the University is petitioning the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment for an increase in the maximum density allowed for buildings on campus, meaning they could be built higher.
“Once Square 54 is decided and the conditions of the development are worked out … there may not be other such opportunities for some time,” Thomas said.
Recently the Foggy Bottom ANC passed a resolution advising the D.C. Zoning Commission to deny GW its zoning petitions for Square 54, the vacant lot across from the Foggy Bottom Metro station, until it proves compliance with the Campus Plan.
Moore, the other announced candidate, did not return calls from The Hatchet by press time.
Michael Akin, GW’s director of Foggy Bottom/West End Affairs, said he is looking forward to working with whomever fills the open position. He said he is already familiar with Thomas because of his work on the Campus Plan.
“His roots in the community run very deep,” Akin said.
To qualify for the position, a candidate must live in the single-member district that the seat covers for at least 60 days prior to filing, and he or she must be a registered voter at the residence within the single-member district’s boundaries. Also, the candidate has to get the signatures of 25 registered voters within the single-member district, said Gottlieb Simon, executive director of the District’s ANCs.
No GW students have filed with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics for the vacant seat, Gottlieb said, even though there has been student representation on the board in the past. In the last eight years at least three former GW students – among them Graham Long, Josh Singer and Steven Mandlebaum – have held a seat on the commission.
Long served as an ANC commissioner while finishing up his degree at GW.
“It enables you to get a lot more influence and information. I really took some time off to get more out of it,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity if you get the chance to do it.”
“I think it’s a really good idea to have one student on the ANC at all times because a large portion of the residents are students,” Long added.
Sometimes the students’ interest is different than what GW or the community wants, Long added.
Akin, GW’s community liaison, said he does not expect a student to run for the vacancy.
“The (single-member district) up for special election is in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a large student population,” he said. The area the vacant seat encompasses lies mostly north of Pennsylvania Avenue and west of the Washington Circle.
The seat was vacated in December, when former commissioner Richard Price moved outside of his single-member district. Price was a longtime commissioner and was instrumental in negotiating problems between the community and McFadden’s Bar and Saloon at 24th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue late last year.
The special election will take place in March as long as there are no challenges to the petition signatures of the two candidates.