DCNorthstar has been covering uptown meetings and events for nearly two years. During that time, we’ve learned a lot about how our local elected officials work. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Being an effective representative requires an array of skills and talents. Citizens are charged with electing a neighbor to be their interface with the vast city government. Yet, there’s never been an effective mechanism to learn about the candidates for these local elections before we step into the voting booth. Until now.
We invited all the candidates for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 4A and 4B and for the special election for the Ward 4 seat on the State Board of Education to meet us for an interview to share their plans and ideas with the community. Twelve of them graciously agreed.
The interviews took place on October 13th at the Shepherd Park Library. The candidates were thoughtful and passionate about serving their community. The interviews were conducted by Jennell Alexander and filmed and edited by Christopher Alexander. Talent management was performed by our children Savannah and Xavier and their friend.
This interview is with Andre Carley, candidate for ANC 4B01 commissioner. He is the incumbent.
We hope that you enjoy this series.
Here is the transcription of the interview. Jennell’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses make up the paragraph text.
Election Day is coming. Do you know who is running to be your Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner? My name is Jennell Alexander from DCNorthstar and we interviewed several candidates and they’re going to tell you a little bit about what their platforms are. Take a look.
- Jennell Alexander
Hi. I’m Andre Carley. Currently I’m running for the elected position at ANC 4B01.
What is the most important issue facing your Single Member District and how do you intend to address it?
That’s a hard question because there are so many interrelated issues: infrastructure, parking, affordable housing. If I have to pick one, I would say affordable housing. By getting regulations either improved or creating new ones. Making sure that our senior citizens are taken care of, especially ones that want to stay in the city. I think that the rents are very high here, very high. So I’d like to have some places where you could have more affordable rents. Right now it’s like $1200 to $2400 a month… that’s really high in this area. So I like to find places where you could get a multiple unit housing down to a more reasonable level.
What are your thoughts on the pace of the city’s development? You can answer this in regards to Walter Reed development or the city’s comprehensive plan.
Well, in regards to Walter Reed, that’s a long term thing. The pace is probably going as well as it can be expected because that’s a 20 year lead-out. I think that Takoma is overdeveloped already. I think we have a lot of new demographics. There’s a lot of building already in Takoma. There’s a lot of concentration of pedestrians and residents.
In particular, the Takoma Metro Project, I’m kind of leery about because I think there’s a lot of density already there. I don’t know if it’s necessary or warranted. I understand that people, the powers that be like those types of projects because it’s great for the tax revenue and whatnot. Like I said, I think Takoma is a little bit too overdeveloped now and I don’t think it needs to be more developed. As far as the comprehensive plan, I think it needs work. Matter of fact, the ANC…I am the current ANC commissioner for 4B01. And I think that the current comprehensive plan, although well intentioned, needs work. I think it’s a little weighted too much toward the developers and I think we have to find a balance.
This commission struggles to work together at times. How will you work with the residents and other commissioners when there is a contentious issue?
By patience. Listening. Counting to 10 sometimes (laugh). I was the chair for last year and I tried to hold the proceedings with, with patience, kindness, and deference. I think that’s what we need more of. I think it’s not really a, uh, well right now we have a winner take all mentality when it comes to politics and there’s something lost I think in the little incremental progress that you used to get from compromising with your opponents or the people that don’t agree with. I think I’d like to go back to something like that.
How do you plan to keep residents informed about issues?
Well, I do that by a listserv. I do flyers. I haven’t held too many SMD meetings, but I plan to do so if re-elected.
Usually I find the SMD (Single Member District) meetings, although a lot of my colleagues tout them , they were poorly attended. Usually you can get more bang for your buck by doing the Listserv and the flyers telling them to come to ANC meetings. I have a really active constituency, so they call me when something’s wrong. So I plan to continue that tack. And also probably a few SMD meetings because few things like the metropolitan bike trail, I probably should be more engaged with the constituents and I will do so. But other than that, electronic media and word of mouth.
Why are you the best person for the job? Why should your neighbors vote for you?
Well, because they have in the past. This will be my third campaign and my third election. My predecessor told it to me this way. She said, “Andre, you go to all the meetings, you testify at the Council, you talk to the constituents, talk to your neighbors. The only thing, only thing you’re not, you don’t have the title of ANC.”
So I said, “Okay.” Well I did it. And I think I’m well known in the community. I know the players on the council and in the various agencies: DOJ, MPD, DoH, ward three and four prevention center. And DPW. I think a few others, DCRA . I think I am, I’m uniquely qualified because I know other people to talk to.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and enjoy yourself in the city?
I like to walk around. Well, when my back’s not bother me. I love to walk around. I love the city. I’ve been here, I wasn’t born here but I’ve lived here since I was five years old. My father was transferred here in the army in 1960 and so on and off. I’ve been here all my life. A little bit of traveling, but other than that, I’m a DC resident. And you know, I love the area. People always tell me that this place is like the most well-kept secret in DC because you know, all the, all the hustle and bustle on Georgia Avenue corridor. I live right around the corner on 9th and Geranium and it’s like quiet, like, like leave it to beaver type, you know, and that’s what we were like kids. We were like playing around all over the place and uh, yeah, that’s what I like to do.
But I am concerned about development on, on the upper Georgia Avenue corridor. I want a little balance. I’m afraid that we’re tilting too much towards the entertainment district. I think that’s a bad way to go since I remember in the seventies and eighties and a little bit of the nineties, this was a highly regarded a night owl place. There was a lot of a gentleman’s clubs and theaters. I mean, not theaters, but a Go-Go clubs and stuff like that. And I see, when I walk late at night, a lot of the entertainment spots, they close at two or three in the morning, depending on the day. I get that feeling again, that it’s, it’s coming back. And I don’t have anything against entertainment clubs and I don’t have anything against that. But I do want to have a balance because I think you should balance it with more amenities. You know, a coffee shop. I’m into comic books. I liked comic books, comic book store or maybe a one those low-end gyms, you know, people can come. Um, something maybe a small grocery, well, small grocery, but I think once wants to decide what they’re going to have at Walter Reed that, that would be a moot point, but a more maybe a little auto shop or like an Ace Hardware or something like that would be nice. Because that’s how it was when I was a kid. You know, all along Georgia Avenue corridor you had a hardware stores, the Rodman’s up on the strip is now and a lot of family eating places that closed at a reasonable hour.
You had a few nightclubs. But that’s okay. You have two or three. But you know, nowadays when I get an ABRA application and someone says they want to open up a restaurant, they always want the maximum hours of operation. They want to be able to sell into 2:00 AM on the weekdays and 3:00 AM on the weekends. And then they want dancing and entertainment and music. And to me that’s not a restaurant they’re de-facto nightclubs. And I think we should curtail that. If you want a restaurant, be a restaurant.