ANC commissioners-elect encourage students to become involved in local politics
AU sophomore Christian Damiana will serve in the 3D07 seat
As the U.S. prepares for a transition to a new presidential administration, AU students are anticipating changes to their lives. But what some may not have considered is how the local D.C. races may affect them too.
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, is a non-partisan neighborhood body made up of local representatives who serve two-year terms. Each commissioner serves without receiving a paycheck, serving as a liaison between residents and the city government.
AU’s main campus is almost completely concentrated in the Single Member District ANC 3D07.
AU sophomore and CLEG major Christian Damiana ran unopposed for the 3D07 commissioner seat, a position that is intended for student representatives.
"If there's these issues that [AU students] care about, at the local level, like the environment that they live in, or the transportation and whether or not it's sustainable, or whether or not AU is meeting their housing needs, those are issues that the ANC can and should address and should be as proactive as possible,” Damiana said.
Damiana will take the seat previously held by Commissioner Taylor Berlin, a 2019 AU alum and MPA student, who was elected to the commission in 2018. Before Berlin, the 3D07 seat had remained vacant for more than two years.
"The vacancy had contributed to the breakdown of the relationship between AU and the surrounding neighborhood," Berlin said. "I'm very, very happy that Christian has won the seat and will be succeeding me and that the relationship that I've worked to rebuild with the surrounding community is going to be continuing."
Ben Bergmann defeated opponent Doreen Moses in the race for the 3D08 Single Member District seat. This district includes several establishments along New Mexico Avenue such as Foxhall Square and Sutton Towers.
Bergmann hopes to keep his community, both AU students and neighborhood residents, engaged with ANC matters. He encourages community members to attend the public ANC meetings held once a month.
“It's very easy at ANC meetings for the views of the people who show up to get privileged, and to be perceived by the commissioners as the dominant, majority positioning,” Bergmann said. “Which makes sense, we don't have sophisticated public polls of what people think in the neighborhood.”
ANC members will often take community input from meetings and attempt to develop a joint position. Commissioners then communicate residents’ opinions to the D.C. mayor’s office or other D.C. agencies.
“It's not that the ANC's going to solve it or make it happen, but it is another tool that students and everybody don't use as much as they could, that could be used to push for things,” Bergmann said.
Damiana encourages AU students to use the ANC for advocacy as well. ANC 3D is one of the few districts that contains zero units of affordable housing, something Damiana plans to be a proponent for during his time as a commissioner. A member of the Metropolitan Police Department also attends every ANC 3D meeting and takes questions, which Damiana also believes students could utilize.