As the Mount Vernon campus’ local governing body gears up for its midterm election, the two candidates running to represent the Vern have pledged to include GW students in their advocacy work, but have yet to speak to students on campus.
Bernie Horn and Christopher Rosier are both running for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s 3D05 seat on platforms centered around connecting residents to D.C. and local government, but both candidates said they have yet to speak with students on the Vern campus, even though the students make up more than half of the 3D05 district’s constituents. The 3D05 seat is one of seven in the ANC’s 3D district that extends from the outskirts of Georgetown into D.C.’s Northwestern border with Maryland.
After redistricting this year shrank the 3D ANC by three seats, the Mount Vernon campus and several portions of the Palisades neighborhood will be in the single-member district 3D07. Jason Rao, who has previously served in the ANC representing the Vern and ANC 3D06 – prior to the redistricting – since 2021, will not be seeking reelection.
Rosier, an acting director of contracts and acquisition management for the Department of Education, said he has been going door to door in 3D07, shaking hands and introducing himself to residents. He added that as far as he knows he has not yet spoken with any GW students while campaigning, but wants students to be active in local government.
“My main thing for the GW students that I’m going to do is be a true advocate here, being somebody that’s going to be present, somebody that you can send an email to, that’s going to respond, that’s going to look at your issue,” Rosier said. “I want to be somebody that’s here to serve, somebody that’s going to be present and advocate for the students.”
The Vern’s population makes up roughly more than half of the 3D07 constituency. In 2021, the Vern housed 1,699 students, and single member districts of ANCs have a target population of 2,000.
Rosier said a key issue he sees in their district is the new charter high school set to open in 2023, a source of controversy given concerns that the new school will result in increased traffic from students and parents driving to and from the school. He said he wants to ensure that even with increased traffic in an already traffic-heavy area, the roads are still safe for pedestrians and bikers.
“There’s already a lot of traffic that comes through and from through this area,” he said. “So having an understanding of okay, now you’re bringing in a bunch of kids that may or may not be driving, how they’re going to get there, what’s the mobility plan, that’s a big issue as well.”
Rosier said his main goal if elected would be to hear from residents at neighborhood-specific assembly meetings in Ward 3 so he can be “present” with his constituents. Rosier said he also wants to increase awareness of ANC issues within the community through outreach on social media.
Bernie Horn, the senior director for policy and communication at the D.C.-based nonprofit Public Leadership Institute, said his experience in politics is key to his candidacy because he is already knowledgeable about crafting legislation with a D.C. focus given his experience in politics. He said he wants to ensure developers honor their agreement with the Palisades Community Association to add a new grocery store to replace the old Safeway in the Palisades.
He said he envisions his role in the ANC as listening to complaints from his constituents in the neighborhood and helping communicate any issues that come up with the city, so those complaints are heard. He said he has already started the door-to-door process, going around twice in the ANC District over the last six weeks – but has not made his way over to the Vern as of last week.
“I just got the voter list, and I’ve walked door to door, I’ve gone around the district twice,” Horn said.
Horn said he hasn’t spoken with any GW students yet since he doesn’t see a practical way to go door-to-door on the campus since he won’t have tap access to the dorms. He said that while he has not noticed or heard about any issues at the Vern campus, he wants to be able to work with students and faculty should issues arise.
Horn added he wants to hear GW students’ voices and, should he win, he plans to set up surveys for all neighborhood residents to voice their concerns.
“As there are specific issues presented, I will try to create surveys for residents so that it encourages feedback,” he said.
Horn said he wants to hear from residents about small issues ranging from potholes and traffic noise to large-scale, community-wide issues like the old Safeway development.
“Maybe that’s the very smallest kind of thing, but that’s the kind of job the ANC does,” he said.