While national and District elections get the lion's share of attention from the public, advisory neighborhood commission elections have the greatest impact on District residents' daily lives.
On November 6, there will be an election for all members of the city's advisory neighborhood commissioners [ANCs]. Robert King, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who represents single member district 5A12 in Ward 5 and is the longest serving elected official in the District, said that he's running for re-election.
"There is unfinished business in Fort Lincoln," said King, 61. "I want to see Fort Lincoln develop to fruition."
King, of course, isn't alone.
Many of the city's commissioners want to be re-elected to continue to serve their neighborhoods, even though there's no monetary compensation.
Each ward has several advisory neighborhood commissions and they're divided by population. Each commissioner represents about 2,000 residents and as a body, the commissions generally meet once a month during a public session.
ANCs represent the resident when it comes to governmental affairs. It's the advisory neighborhood commissioner who addresses residents' immediate concerns such as broken sidewalks, or busted street lights along with issues on a larger scale that include liquor licenses, zoning and economic development when it comes to overall community concerns and quality of life.
Commissioners are elected every two years and their names appear on the ballot in the general elections. Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) have served as advisory neighborhood commissioners. D.C. Council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and David Catania (I-At Large) have also been ANCs.
"ANCs are very valuable for they are the direct link to the city government," Kemry Hughes, a District political analyst said. "They have the pulse of the community. They bring value when they take their jobs seriously."
E. Gail Holness, who represents single-member district 1B11, has decided to run for another term as well. "I think the community I represent needs stability," said Holness, 55. "Howard University is in my single-member district. I want to be there as someone the people can relate to."
Holness said that she often has to serve as an arbiter on some community issues.
"We have new residents here but they have no interest in the city," she said. "It is like when you move into a house and some want to move furniture but there is no need to move any furniture. People have to learn to co-exist and respect each other."
Yet, there are those who have decided not to seek re-election for various reasons. Sandra Seegars, who represents 8E01, said that it's time for a change.
"I need to move on to something else," Seegars said. "I am stepping aside so someone else can show what they can do."
Sylvia Brown, who represents single-member district 7C04 in Ward 7 said recently that she "is transitioning out of being a commissioner" to take a rest. Villareal Johnson, 34, who is the commissioner for single-member district 7A07 and chairman of ANC 7A, also threw his hat in the ring for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education.
Keith Silver, the commissioner for 6C01 in Ward 6, said that he just wants to spend more time with his family.
"I have four grandchildren and when we went through the family photo album, recently, during the last holiday, one of them looked up and asked, 'grandpa, how come you aren't in any of the photos at the various family picnics and outings,'" Silver said. "I gave them an answer but in reality, I am sad to say, I was off at some community meeting, community protest or something. It dawned on me in that split second ... I must pause at this juncture and spend some time with my grandchildren."
King said that he will continue to serve his community.
"When I am gone, what do I want people to remember about Bob King?" he asked. "I want them to say that he was dedicated and had a call to service. I want to leave a legacy as a community servant."