The folks out in Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5A in Northeast Washington think that they and their colleagues around the city have done a good job against the odds, building the grassroots organizations from scratch.
And they have an idea about how the city can say "thank you."
"Whereas," they said in a resolution passed on March 18, "it was incumbent upon the first elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners to burdensomely strive for identity, recognition and they were left somewhat void of concrete guidance on rules of setting up workable organizations, they should be kindly rewarded for their tolerance in getting organization in the ANCs."
They should be kindly rewarded, according to the resolution, by not being required to run for re-election in November, 1977. Commissioners who want to continue in office for another two-year term should be able to do so automatically without having to face another campaign, although anyone who wants to bail out may do so, the resolution proposes.
"Considering the many problems encountered by the officials elected to the novel entity of the District of Columbia Government, it seems only fair that they not be subjected to another hassle at such an early date," the resolution said.
It wouldn't be legal for commissioners to skip the election under current law, but Mozelle E. Watkins, who introduced the resolution, said she hopes that "something would go forward on that." On the other hand, she had not received any response form the City Council, to whom the resolution was forwarded, or from any other government officials, she said.
The first ANC commissioners, nearly 300 of them, were elected in a February, 1976, election and sworn in during early March, after some confusion about election results. Funding to allow the ANCs to set up operations was slow in coming, with $130,400 finally distributed that August, almost six months after the election.
"ANC 5A did not get office facilities until January, 1977. Most ANCs experienced related problems," according to the resolution. Because of the difficulties, the effective terms of the first group of commissioners, who were elected for terms shorter than two years in the first place, were further curtailed, the resolution said.
"And too, a November, 1977, ANC election is not worth the wear and tear it will have on the commissioners who are already frayed from their battles for recognition and assistance, nor is the election worht the fiscal impact it will impose on our monetary damaged city," the resolution said.
A spokesman for Willie Hardy, who heads the special D.C. City Countil committee on ANCs, said he had not seen the resolution. However, the committee recently reported out legislation that would releive the Board of Elections and Ethics from conducting special elections to fill ANC commissioner vacancies. The vacancies would be filled by persons appointed by the commissions.