You surely do no need GM’s advice about how to vote for the national or even citywide ballot. But you might be looking for guidance on how to vote for the ANC. While six out of the eight Georgetown districts are uncontested, two aren’t. And if you live in those districts (SMDs 03 and 05 on the map above), here is how GM thinks you should vote:
Rick Murphy for SMD 03
GM believes you should vote for Rick Murphy if you live in SMD 03. GM has known Rick for years (GM once worked at the same law firm as Rick, although didn’t work directly with him). In recent years Rick has retired from the firm and dedicated more of his time to community matters. He took the job of counsel for the ANC pro bono and has come quickly up to speed on all the issues that affect his district, particularly town-gown matters and the DC Water proposal for Green Infrastructure. GM believes Rick will serve as an excellent commissioner.
Rick’s opponent is Greg Miller. For several years, GM has worked with Greg on the Georgetown Community Partnership committee on transportation. Greg is a thoughtful participant and GM probably agrees with Greg’s position on most matters (particularly transportation-related). But Greg is an employee of the university. He would be have to recuse himself from all public discussions related to town-gown matters. The relationship between the school and the non-student residents has improved immeasurably in the recent years, but there are still issues that remain. And a commissioner who represents west Georgetown that is prohibited from speaking about the school at public meetings would not be able to fully fulfill his duties.
The city ethics rules would permit Greg to speak about the school in non-public meetings, which is where a lot of the hard work of commissioners gets done. But he’s still be conflicted and would face the impossible decision of weighing his constituent’s interests against his employer’s. It would be an impossible position for anyone to perform in. If Greg were not a GU employee, he’d make a fantastic commissioner. But for now he is too conflicted to adequately fulfill all the duties of the position.
Bill Starrels for SMD 05
If you live in SMD 05 (lower Georgetown) GM believes you should vote for Bill Starrels. GM has not always seen eye-to-eye with Bill and has exchanged heated words with him. But with Bill, you know what you are getting: a tireless advocate for his constituents who knows how to actually get things done and he is well versed in all issues that affect his district.
His opponent is Lisa Palmer. GM has been downright amused at the pressure he’s received from both candidate’s supporters to write something negative about the other. GM has refused because the information alleged was either unverified or inconsequential (or both). GM thinks you should evaluate the candidates on their service to the community and whether that service makes them a worthy candidate or not.
And on that count GM gives the clear edge to Bill. GM has been very active in community affairs in Georgetown for years now, either through the Citizens Association, the Friends of Volta Park, the Georgetown Community Partnership, or at least a dozen ad hoc working groups or committees covering topics as wide-ranging as parking to Mt. Zion Cemetery. And that’s on top of writing a website covering the neighborhood.
And despite all that involvement, GM has never even heard of Lisa before her name appeared as a possible candidate this summer. She moved to Georgetown in 2012, but does not appear to have become actively engaged in any of the many community groups that work here day in day out. When asked to correct this observation at the candidate forum, she didn’t.
Here’s a telling example of this discrepancy in practice:
In the Current last week, Lisa wrote in to criticize Bill for having said at the candidate forum that there was no room for more lanes on K/Water St. She stated that the BID’s plan to reconfigure that street, which she supports, proves Bill wrong. What she left out (or didn’t realize) is that Bill helped write that plan. He (along with GM) have been consulting with the BID on that plan for months. (And for the record, the plan adds only bike and [eventually] streetcar lanes, which is great! But it also is consistent with Bill’s original point that the solution to lower Georgetown’s congestion problem is not more auto-traffic lanes.)
Whenever GM finds himself at a community meeting, he almost always sees Bill too. Bill has dedicated countless hours to his constituents and his community, and GM thinks he’s earned another term.
Lisa is a poised and accomplished candidate. Maybe in the future GM could endorse her. But for that to happen, he’ll have to start seeing her hike up her sleeves and pitch-in on a sustained basis through the dozens of organizations or committees around Georgetown who would be happy and grateful to have her help.