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 Tiffani Johnson, a write-in candidate for ANC 4B06 commissioner. Ms. Johnson stepped up when the incumbent commissioner Natalee Snider withdrew from the race.
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
Hello everyone. My name is Tiffani Nicole Johnson. I am running for commissioner for ANC 4B06.
- Tiffani Johnson
What is the most important issue facing your Single Member District and how do you intend to address it?
I believe one of the most important issues is safety. There’s a litany of other issues, but from everything that I’ve been reading and hearing from my neighbors and throughout the community, it would be safety. We’ve had a lot of thefts from vehicles. We’ve had some burglaries. Crimes of opportunity. So I really want to advise all members of ANC4B06 about what they can do to protect themselves. I also want to keep going with establishing block captains that will ensure that information is disseminated throughout all of the ANC regarding the steps that they can take to protect themselves, who they can contact if they do feel that a crime has been perpetrated against them or another resident in the community.
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.
I’ll answer in terms of both. I’m happy to see that Walter Reed development is going forward. I’m a little concerned about the pace because there’s some things that I think are missing. We haven’t finalized a grocer for that location. We’ve had a lot of back and forth. Is is this grocer? Are going to come? No, they’re not. So I’m a little concerned about that. And I’d really like to get some additional feedback from the community regarding what else they would like to see there. That the entire community can partake in. Also concerned about affordable housing. And that stems into the city’s comprehensive plan, concerned about the number of affordable housing units that we have and also low income housing units.
A lot of people believe that affordable housing means that people of low income can afford it and that’s not the case. So there needs to be a lot of education on that to the community so that they understand when they’re advocating for affordable housing, it’s not really low income housing. So the disabled community, our senior citizens who are living off of SSDI or just a pension might not be able to afford those units and therefore they’re going to be priced out of the community, can’t age in place and that I just don’t approve of.
This commission struggles to work together at times. How will you work with the residents and other commissioners when there is a contentious issue?
Well, I’ve already stated on the record, on NextDoor.com and I’ve spoken with Tanya Topolewski who’s a current commissioner about this as well as Natalie Snider, who is vacating this position, regarding mediation. There seems to be a lot of infighting going on among the commissioners. I think mediation might be appropriate to really hash out all of the internal issues and find a common ground that we can all work together.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is the efficiency aspect of the way the commission operates. I’ve seen other commissions use Robert’s Rules of Order and that does provide an additional level of efficiency so that people are not talking over one another. There’s no confusion as to who is speaking, what they’re speaking about, things of that nature. So I would like to see that brought into the equation as well.
Lastly, I would like that there be a standing resolution among all of the commissioners that if they have a issue or concern with regard to one or more commissioners that they not use social media to air those grievances, that they air those grievances on the record before all of the commissioners, before constituents so that everyone has an opportunity to hear those grievances and the aggrieved party has a chance to rebut that. So that way there’s more cohesiveness. There’s an actual record that can be documented. I don’t believe social media is an appropriate forum for that and I believe that adds to a lot of strife as well.
How do you plan to keep residents informed about issues?
Oh, I use all mediums. I do use social media just to get out the word. I use NextDoor.com. I use the listserve (Yahoo! Groups). But also I know that we have a very large population of elderly and disabled. So door to door canvassing, meeting with them at neighborhood community forums. I just went to one this past Thursday at Albright Community Church. So, really going to where they are. If it’s Hattie Holmes wellness center, if it’s their church, if it’s their home setting.
I have a great group of teens, Network Teens, founded by my roommate’s son DD Green and AJ Woodard and those teens have really helped a lot in the past couple of years with regards to helping with different events for the Manor Park Citizens Association, of which I’m currently vice president. So I have feet on the ground, I have communication online and I want to make sure that everyone feels like they are not only a part of this campaign, but if I am elected, really engaged and knowledgeable with regard to everything that’s going on, not only with just the single member district but throughout this entire ANC.
Why are you the best person for the job? Why should your neighbors vote for you?
I believe I’m the best person for this job because I’ve sort of been doing it for a really long time! People know me and know that I’ve been Ward 4 Democrats, Kennedy Street Development Corporation, Manor Park Citizens Association. I’m always getting involved in local politics to the best of my ability, helping the community to the best of my ability because this is a community that raised me.
I’ve lived in the same house all my life. I’m 38 years old. I’ve lived in the same house for 38 years. It’s been in my family since 1958. Half of the neighbors who live with me, who live in my neighborhood have known me since the day I was born. My godparents live on that block. They’ve known Angel, my daughter, since the day she was born. So I feel like it’s incumbent to me to give back to my community and impart all of my knowledge, all of my skills, all of my abilities into that. And I hope that the community understands that, although my daughter is my first priority, I will always be there for the community. I will always support them and I will do the best that I can to find whatever resources or options there are to assist them.