Commissioner candidates meet at ANC2A’s candidate forum

ANC2A held a candidate forum to introduce those running for commissioner positions. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.
ANC2A held a candidate forum to introduce those running for commissioner positions. Photo courtesy of Amanda Menas.

By: Amanda Menas:

ANC2A held a candidate forum to introduce those running for commissioner positions. Two of the eight seats see new, unopposed candidates. And one seat, 2A04, hosts a race between incumbent Commissioner William Kennedy Smith against Elena V. Son.

Candidates were paired up with those running for other seats to take questions after brief statements. Smith and Son had additional time for opening remarks.

Son has lived in the Foggy Bottom/ West End neighborhood since 2011, during which time she graduated from the George Washington University, and began working professionally in international trade. She became inspired to run for the commissioner position when her father had surgery at the GW Hospital. And Son was able to work with the Mayor’s office on insurance issues.

Her experience as a board member of the Potomac Plaza Terraces prompted her campaign to focus on community input and being “proactive.” She plans to focus on issues of rodents, the homelessness epidemic, traffic and personal safety, and noise.

Smith focused on his time as a commissioner for 2A and specifically his time over the past year as chairperson. He highlighted the idea that ANC positions are a “team sport” and promoted his work on streetscape and traffic flow issues throughout the community.

Community members in attendance asked questions ranging from noise levels, to safety and sanitation. Specific areas where the candidates differed included the addition of the helicopter pad to the GW hospital. Smith stood with his previous decision on advocating for the pad to increase the abilities of the level one trauma center, where Son argued abuses were already existing though the pad wasn’t built yet.

Additionally, when discussing Miriam’s Kitchen and the homelessness epidemic in the neighborhood, Smith focused on the opportunities the organization provides for individuals. Calling it an “extraordinary gem”, Smith also acknowledged the need for greater organizational presence on the street. He hopes it will promote support from the neighborhood. Son mentioned an uptick in crime rates in the District, tying the idea that organizers at Miriam’s Kitchen feel they are on the defensive.

Unopposed candidate Trupti Patel, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years, is running for the 2A03 seat. She is a recognizable community member after working for Trader Joe’s for four-and-a-half years. Patel was also a bartender for Café Delux. Her focus is on creating a stronger sense of community and ensuring the safety of residents.

Jerri Epstein has lived in the West End neighborhood for over 20 years and is running for the 2A06 seat, previously occupied by 10-year incumbent Florence Harmon, who is stepping down. She plans to focus on traffic impacting the neighborhood and will pick up in advocating for Stevens Elementary to remain an educational institution.

Patrick Kennedy, Detrick Campbell, and James Harnett each are running as incumbents and unopposed. Harnett was a recent addition to the ANC in the last six months. He is also an undergraduate at the George Washington University studying political science and computer science. Harnett was asked about any issues related to his studies the ANC should be aware of. He pointed to the recent issue of small cell towers and the ability for commissioners to tell cell providers they need to work together to create the 5G nation they envision.

Nicole Golden is a new candidate running to fill the 2A02 seat. But she was absent due to a prior work commitment. Philip Schrefer, the incumbent for 2A05 was also absent.