As part of The Hatchet’s Election Guide, we profiled candidates in each Foggy Bottom and West End ANC race. This article profiles candidates in contested races. To read about the candidates running unopposed, click here.
In a local governing body’s biennial elections, three races will pit GW alumni and students against local residents, each with hopes to represent their own slice of Foggy Bottom.
Eight of the nine single-member districts of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission will have at least one candidate running to fill a seat on the ANC, which oversees the needs of constituents in GW’s home neighborhood. Three of the races in SMDs known as 2A01, 2A04 and 2A07 are contested, each with at least one current or former student.
2A01 will feature a battle of two alumni, Commissioner Yannik Omictin and challenger paralegal Susana Baranano. In 2A04, two ANC newcomers are vying for a seat, with first-year law student Carson Robb taking on retired attorney Ed Comer. In 2A07, junior Dasia Bandy will look to unseat incumbent Commissioner Adam Friend.
Here is everything you need to know about the ANC’s competitive races:
ANC 2A01: Alumna Susana Baranano vs. Commissioner Yannik Omictin
Commissioner Yannik Omictin, an alumnus and incumbent commissioner, is running for reelection in 2A01 – which spans the southern end of Foggy Bottom, representing Mitchell and Thurston halls and apartment buildings like The York and the Statesman. Alumna Susana Baranano ran for the same district in the ANC’s 1998 election and lost.
Omictin, who has served as the district’s commissioner for two years and graduated from GW in 2021, said he will prioritize ending homelessness and improving transportation in his district, if reelected. He said he wants D.C. officials to treat unhoused people in the E Street encampment in his SMD with “dignity,” housing voucher accommodations and equitable income opportunities.
Omictin said he hopes to permanently close H Street to motor vehicles on campus to prevent pedestrian harm and promote community between students.
“As part of my work on the ANC, I really want to work with the representative of that area, as well as all of our other colleagues, to really keep that ball moving,” Omictin said in September.
Baranano, who earned two master’s degrees from GW in 1979 and 1993, said she wants to draft an ANC “bill of rights” between students and residents that outlines strong traffic safety and active neighborhood outreach, which she views to be the top priorities of the constituency. She said because constituents can’t raise all their concerns during the time allotted for public comment during meetings, commissioners should be more available to speak before or after ANC meetings to discuss issues they couldn’t previously.
“I want to work with the community, both students and long-term residents, to draft and write a bill of rights so that the ANC has our goals and our priorities well stated,” Baranano said.
ANC 2A04: Law student Carson Robb vs. retired attorney Ed Comer
Commissioner Donna Barbisch is ready to step down from her seat representing the area surrounding the Watergate complex in SMD 2A04, running two years ago with plans for a brief tenure in lieu of her retirement. Barbisch said she will still work to aid the District on the “strategic level” going forward as a community advocate for endeavors like pedestrian and driver safety.
“I’d like to see a community, and that said, we have all these challenges that I think need some human factors infused into the planning so that we can cohabitate,” Barbisch said.
Ed Comer, a retired attorney and current professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, said Barbisch approached him to run for her seat earlier this year. Comer said he would prioritize installing bike lanes along Virginia Avenue and helping local businesses recover from the pandemic, if elected.
Carson Robb, a first-year law student, said he is running to offer Foggy Bottom residents an alternative choice to an unopposed candidate as a younger voice on the D.C. political scene. Robb said tightening bike lane safety, expanding neighborhood green space and combating systemic racism have fueled his campaign.
“With all of these issues, I believe local politics is at the forefront,” Robb said in an email. “I’m running because I know I can be the candidate to face such complex problems with maturity, understanding and a listening heart.”
Robb’s campaign website identifies four plans for Foggy Bottom and the West End – increasing Foggy Bottom’s sustainability with clean vehicle plans, reducing homelessness with more accessible mental health resources, making streets safer via effective policing strategies and aiding the working class through mutual aid.
“The ANCs’ main job is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on things that affect their neighborhoods,” Robb’s website states.
ANC 2A07: Junior Dasia Bandy vs. Commissioner Adam Friend
Junior Dasia Bandy staged a run to become Student Association president in March before losing to President Christian Zidouemba, but she has since set her sights on the ANC. She is now vying to serve on the commission’s 2A07 seat, which represents Potomac House, South and Guthridge Halls, the eastern portion of Foggy Bottom and the White House.
If elected, she would become the most recent undergraduate to serve on the ANC since Margaret McDonald, who stepped down earlier this year. Bandy said she decided to run after discussing the position with Omictin and alumnus James Harnett last year, who represented 2A08 for one term on the ANC before graduating and stepping down in 2020.
Before D.C. redrew the ANC’s boundaries earlier this year, Bandy’s residence in South Hall was located in 2A08, which represented 10 residence halls on campus. The SMD is now restricted to the northeastern slice of Foggy Bottom, which includes buildings like District House, One Washington Circle Hotel, Western Market and the Residences on the Avenue.
Bandy said student engagement, neighborhood safety with respect to transportation and sexual assault and awareness of the ANC are the top priorities of her platform.
“I think paying homage and amends to the people that came before us really allows you to make and do great work afterwards,” Bandy said. “I can’t understand how to make efficient and effective change without knowing what was already done before me.”
In an interview to outline her platform for her ANC candidacy in September, Bandy misidentified the SMD she was running for as 2A08 despite residing in 2A07.
Incumbent Commissioner Adam Friend is running as a write-in candidate against Bandy.
Friend said his top goals would be to preserve a “good relationship” with GW, continue monitoring construction at the 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue development and manage the homeless encampment along Virginia Avenue. He said maintaining partnerships and relationships with local residents is “crucial” to better representation.
“We are fortunate to have a system of local democracy where the average person can play a critical role in policy toward their neighborhood,” Friend said in an email. “Whether as a commissioner or not, I intend to advocate for the Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhood to be a vibrant place that offers more to the people who make up its community.”
Shea Carlberg contributed reporting.