It’s Not Like You Have a Choice Anyway, But…

Next week is the general election, and Georgetown will go to the polls and decide who will serve on the ANC. The thing is, of course, that Georgetown doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. None of the seven seats are contested (although each has a candidate, which is more than can be said for some seats across town).

But notwithstanding the lack of a genuine competition, GM thinks an election is a good time to become more acquainted with your elected officials. So today he’s going to give his “endorsements” despite the meaninglessness thereof.

First up: SMD 2- Ron Lewis

SMD 02 Commissioner Photo

Ron has been representing SMD 2 since 2006. He served as chair of the commission this past term. He also serves on the transportation subcommittee.

Ron’s a great asset to the ANC. He runs the meetings efficiently and fairly, without allowing too many distractions slow down the meetings. He is a consensus builder. Best of all, from GM’s perspective, Ron is a forward thinker on transportation issues. While Ron is not ready to accept all of GM’s uber-urbanist suggestions, for a Georgetown ANC rep he is very enlightened.

On the downside, Ron’s wife is on the Old Georgetown Board, so he has to recuse himself from most of the OGB discussions. This takes away one opinion from the discussion, although in the interest of shorter meetings that’s arguably a pro. Also, while Ron is a progressive thinker on a lot of transportation issues, GM thinks he’s a little to gun-shy about shutting down streets for events. Also, he rightly took some heat from GU students for pushing a re-route of the GUTS bus which increases the length of the ride significantly. That was the wrong decision in GM’s opinion.

All in all, while he’s not GM’s rep, GM would be happy to vote for Ron if he could.

SMD 7 – Charlie Eason

SMD 07 Commissioner Photo

Speaking of GM’s rep, that would be SMD 7 commissioner Charlie Eason. Charlie has been on the commission since 2004. Among other committees, he’s on the Tudor Place Liaison Committee and the Libraries Committee.

Charlie is another great asset to the ANC, although in a different way than Ron. Charlie has a strong focus on historical preservation and is among the more rigorous defenders on the commission of the preservation laws.

The thing about SMD 7 is this: upper northeast Georgetowners just don’t have very many issues. It doesn’t have students. It doesn’t get the same traffic congestion as west Georgetown. Parking is not bad. When your biggest issue is what buildings are going to get built on a huge estate, you’re doing pretty well. So Charlie probably has one of the more content constituencies in Georgetown.

What this results in, though, is that Charlie doesn’t get drawn into too many of the discussions during the meetings. And when he does, GM detects a not too subtle tension between Charlie and the other commissioners, who sometimes treat him like he’s meddling.

Finally, Charlie brings a very needed skeptical voice to the commission. He often rejects knee-jerk nimbyism and is willing to challenge the conventional wisdom that often fights all change. This willingness to stake a contrarian position means that he is not often playing the role of consensus builder, but he is no less valuable on the commission for it.

GM will be happily voting to reelect Charlie again next week.

SMD 6 – Tom Birch

Photo courtesy of Alliance for Artists Communities.

Tom Birch has represented SMD 6 on-and-off since 2000. He serves on the ABC subcommittee, among other committees.

Not to be dramatic, but GM wouldn’t want an ANC2e if it didn’t have Tom Birch. He is by far the most amusing commissioner and is like a quote-of-the-night machine.

Architecturally speaking, he is probably on the conservative side. He leads the charge against blade signs and awnings and he’s the first to call a design “tacky” or “gaudy.” More often than not GM agrees with him.

While not without his skepticism, he’s more like Ron in terms of consensus building.  And he serves the indispensable role of representing the ANC before the OGB, which calls for him to attend the OGB’s day-long meeting every month. That’s a truly thankless task.

GM heartily endorses Tom Birch for SMD 6.

The Rest

GM’s not going to give endorsements for the other SMDs. Here’s why:

  • SMD 1 is in Burleith, so that’s out of GM’s jurisdiction. But for what it’s worth, Ed Solomon does a fine job, but seriously, GM simply cannot remember the last time an issue for Burleith (let alone Hillandale) came up during an ANC meeting. Since they’re not subject to the OGB nor are they in the Georgetown historical district, they don’t face as much design review. As a result, more often than not Solomon is representing the voice of the businesses since he is a small business owner himself. In this role, he does a good job as a conciliator between the businesses and the public.
  • SMD 3. Bill Skelsey is stepping down and his replacement is likely to be Michael SavageJeffrey Jones. GM doesn’t know enough about SavageJones to endorse him yet, but he is encouraged that SavageJones made it a point to come into the commission with an open mind.
  • SMD 4. Aaron Golds is graduating and is likely to be replaced by Jake Sticka. Again, GM doesn’t know enough to endorse Sticka at this time.
  • SMD 5. Bill Starrels has been on the commission the longest, having served continuously since 2000. Since he represents the bulk of Georgetown’s nightlife district, he often takes the lead on ABC matters. GM respects Starrels’s many years of service (and his dedication to the local public schools in particular), but in all honesty, GM just doesn’t frequently find himself agreeing with Starrels on matters before the commission. And GM finds that Starrels can be needlessly confrontational and dismissive towards people speaking and even other commissioners. Moreover, he was the lone voice on the commission against streetcars when the topic was discussed. For all these reasons GM will decline to endorse him this year.


Filed under ANC

4 responses to “It’s Not Like You Have a Choice Anyway, But…

  1. KPE

    This is great and much appreciated. I can’t ever watch my ANC in action, and it can very hard to find any information about them. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: ANC Preview: Judge For Yourself Edition «

  3. Wolf

    Bill Starrels has our enthusiastic and hands-down endorsement! He has done an excellent job by us–his direct constituents. He showed great leadership with ABC; the circulator issue and very supportive in the Philly Pizza nuisance challenges.

  4. Allen

    You stated that Ed Solomon never has an issue come up in his SMD… hmm, that is interesting considering the GU 10 year plan in on the table and the quality of life for Burleith residents is on the line. Ed has done a wonderful job fighting for residents that are concerned our neighborhood will turn into a dorm. The University does not hold these students accountable. I am glad that Ed had decided to lend his voice!

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