Future politicos and government junkies at GW may dream of someday living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but for one recent grad, public office couldn’t come soon enough.
L. Asher Corson, class of 2007, was elected in late May as chairman of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the highest position within the local community’s governmental body. Corson is the first GW graduate to hold the position.
“Things have gotten a lot more overwhelming,” Corson said. “It’s definitely been a very, very intense learning process for me.”
After defeating incumbent Ann Savage for a seat on the commission in fall 2006, Corson was elected to the chairman position by a sizeable majority after Vince Micone stepped down in the spring.
The Foggy Bottom and West End ANC, also known as ANC 2A, has a long history of almost constant resistance to the University’s expansion, most recently opposing the University’s plans for development of Square 54. Despite his background as a GW student and as the youngest member of the commission, Corson says he received a warm welcome from the community and his fellow ANC members.
“I am the first GW student to get elected with the support of the community,” Corson said.
David Lehrman, an ANC Commissioner and resident of The Statesman, supported Corson’s election to the chairman position.
“I’m actually enthusiastic about him being here and I find him a pleasure to work with personally,” Lehrman said.
While the ANC does not have any legal power to make final decisions on proposals, it has the ear of the Zoning Commission and the D.C. City Council, two groups that control the expansion of GW. Most recently, Corson and the ANC 2A have been asking the council to overturn emergency legislation that would develop the land currently occupied by the West End Library.
“He’s dealing with people who are angry,” Lehrman said. “You have to have a combination of diplomatic skills. You have to have time management skills. And I have found him to be very, very responsive.”
Lehrman added that he is also sure Corson will be objective when it comes to voting on GW-related issues.
Corson’s election to the ANC also comes at the end of Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s tenure at the University, a change of leadership that has excited GW’s Foggy Bottom neighbors.
Michael Akin, the director of Foggy Bottom/West End relations, also welcomes Corson’s election to the head of the ANC.
“I think he will be able to find a balance between community issues and the fact that he was student,” Akin said. “I think there’s a lot of potential in the new commission.”
Corson encourages other students to seek local office, following not just in his footsteps, but also those of Joshua Singer, a 2007 graduate of the Law School, and Graham Long, a 2006 graduate. Both Singer and Long served on the ANC.
In addition to his new title within local community’s government, Corson has also started a full-time job as communications director for D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh. She is also a professor at GW Law School.