A rising junior has officially joined a local governing body in Foggy Bottom, filling a seat that represents a majority of campus residence halls, following a swearing-in ceremony Friday.
Margaret McDonald said they were certified as a commissioner by the D.C. Board of Elections and sworn in by Ward 2 D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto to serve on the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the rest of the ANC’s current term. McDonald will occupy the seat known as 2A08, a district created in 2013 that exclusively represents University housing and relies on student commissioners within the constituency to serve on the ANC.
The seat has been vacant for the past five months after James Harnett, the district’s previous commissioner, stepped down at the end of his term in January following his graduation from GW. Prior to the vacancy earlier this year, students had filled the seat dating back to 2013.
“I am feeling a mix of optimism and mindfulness toward being sworn in as commissioner for ANC seat 2A08,” McDonald said in an email. “The main thing on my mind now is asking how I can best connect with the people in ANC 2A08 and make sure their voices are heard in local government.”
McDonald – the president of Persist GW, a progressive student organization – ran unopposed for the vacant seat, championing a progressive campaign platform with measures like banning cars from H Street, reducing police presence on campus and in the District and expanding access to menstrual products in bathrooms throughout the city. They said their goals depend on the inclusion of students and campus leaders in the lawmaking process.
“None of those plans matter, however, without the assistance of those living in Foggy Bottom,” they said. “I will amplify on-campus voices to fulfill these goals and encourage students to interact with the local D.C. government.”
McDonald will represent District and Potomac houses, South, Guthridge, Lafayette and Strong halls, Greek life townhouses and the F Street House – University President Thomas LeBlanc’s campus residence. The ANC seat sat empty for months after COVID-19 shutdowns depleted the student population and potential candidates from campus leading up to the general election in November.
McDonald said they feel prepared to serve as commissioner, and other current and former ANC commissioners – like Harnett and Commissioner Yannik Omictin, a recent graduate from GW – will guide and assist them through difficulties that may come with starting a new job.
“I feel prepared for the job, but I also realize that situations can arise that I cannot plan for when beginning new things,” they said. “I am lucky to have the guidance of former Commissioner James Harnett and current Commissioner Yannik Omictin.”
McDonald’s first ANC meeting as a commissioner will come June 16, according to the ANC’s website. McDonald will also host a town hall on closing H Street to cars June 27.