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ANCs Hold Elections

James Wright | 11/14/2012, 8:47 a.m.

While most of the attention on Nov. 6 focused on the federal and D.C. Council elections, contests were also held across the city for neighborhood-based representatives to the D.C. government.

District residents elected advisory neighborhood commissioners in 296 single-member districts on Election Day. Kathy Henderson, who won her election for another term as a commissioner over Darlene Glymph and Rodney Burton, said that she's pleased that the residents of her district, 5D05, gave her two more years to represent them.

"I feel the people have spoken," said Henderson, 50. "We ran a very strong campaign and we have a shared vision for our country and our neighborhood."

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are the body of government closest to the residents in the various neighborhoods. They consider a wide range of policies and programs that affect their communities, including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning; economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection and they weigh in on the District's budget.

Commissions present their positions and recommendations to city agencies and officials in the executive and legislative branches and, sometimes, to federal agencies. In city matters, by law, commission recommendations must be given "great weight" when officials must make decisions affecting the commission's area.

Commissions are divided into single-member districts, which represent roughly 2,000 residents. Commissioners are not compensated for their work.

Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty served as a commissioner in Ward 4 and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson [D] and council members Jack Evans [D-Ward 2], Muriel Bowser [D-Ward 4)], Tommy Wells [D-Ward 6], David Catania [I-At Large] also worked as commissioners.

Many commissioners had no opposition in their bid for re-election, such as Francis Campbell, who will represent 6B10 for his sixth term. Campbell, 61, said that he will focus on what will be done about Reservation 13, an area that encompasses the Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, the shuttered D.C. General Hospital and the District's Jail.

"I will work to make sure that any plan that the city has for Reservation 13 will benefit the residents and not negatively impact the area," he said.

Anthony Muhammad, who won his election as the commissioner for 8E02 with no opposition, also, said he will focus on improving Ward 8.

"There are always more challenges and I will work to improve the ward," said Muhammad, 53. "I am going to focus on improving the literacy of our residents and advertising employment opportunities for Ward 8 residents through newsletters."

There are 176 commissioners who like Campbell and Muhammad, didn't have opponents. Twenty-three single-member districts did not have a candidate at all.

However, there were some noted contests such as veteran political activist Frank Wilds defeating Patricia Ann Roberts, 52-48, in 5A01 and Kevin Chapple beating veteran commissioner Leroy Thorpe by one vote.

Veteran commissioners such as Robert King in 5C03 and Mary Cuthbert in 8C03 retained their seats. Emerging political stars such as Commissioner Vicki Wright-Smith of 1A02 retained her seat while former public relations guru Natalie Williams was elected to her first term representing 8A07.

W. Philip Thomas, one of the few African-American commissioners located west of Rock Creek Park, won his race over Jameson Freeman, in 3D05 in the Palisades area of Northwest. Thomas, 27, said that he will work on having "streets paved and trying to keep traffic flowingly smoothly."

"Many people believe that commissioners in Ward 3 do not have a lot of work to do but that is not true," he said. "Remember, we have universities and colleges in this area and there are always municipal improvements that need to be done."

The commissioners will be sworn in on January 3 after the D.C. Council members take their oaths, in a separate ceremony. Henderson said that she will continue to do what she has always done.

"I will work to improve the lives of my constituents," she said.