More than 300 advisory neighborhood commissioners took the oath of their volunteer offices last week at the Washington Convention Center, but one new commissioner was barred from the ceremony.
Ezekiel Shaub, an 18-year-old high school senior from Brookland, wasn't allowed to attend because the city didn't certify his victory, a paperwork formality, until yesterday.
Shaub, the last candidate from the Nov. 6 election to be declared a winner, was elected to his ANC post with only one vote:
His victory supports the adage that every vote counts, but it also bolsters a maxim that usually doesn't apply to the rough and tumble world of politics: Be nice to your mother.
"I wasn't running at all," Shaub said. "My mom wrote in my name because she thought I would be a good candidate. That one write-in vote carried me all the way."
Shaub, a serious and intense young man, said he will start serving the people in his Catholic University neighborhood just as soon as he finds out exactly what an ANC commissioner does.
He will represent 2,000 neighbors on one of the city's 37 ANCs, which were established under home rule to give city neighborhoods a voice in D.C. government. The commissions lobby the District for public services and make recommendations to city boards and agencies on issues affecting the neighborhoods they represent.
Shaub said he actually had thought about running because he would like to get involved in local politics. But Gwen Shaub, his mother, said she advised her son not to run because it would interfere with his schoolwork. So he dutifully had stayed out of the race.
But there in the voting booth on Nov. 6, confronted with the fact that no one was running for the ANC seat representing her neighborhood, she impulsively penned in his name. "I never thought in a million years he would have a chance," she said.
Ezekiel, who became eligible to vote last year, cast a ballot too, but without a vote for the ANC.
A few weeks later, the city sent him a letter saying he was one of 12 residents who had received one write-in vote and asking him to declare his candidacy if he wanted to stay in the running.
This time, Gwen Shaub, acting as her son's key political adviser, to say nothing of his entire political base, advised him to "go for it."
Three others also declared their candidacy, so on Dec. 28, in accordance with D.C. law, four pieces of paper were thrown into a hat at the Board of Ethics and Elections office. Three were blank and one had the word "winner" scrawled on it.
The finalists took turns pulling from the hat. Gwen Shaub, standing in for her son, who was out of town visiting his great-grandmother, plucked the one labeled "winner."
"I ran out to the phone booth and called him immediately to tell him the good news," she said.
Ezekiel Shaub, a soft-spoken senior at The Lab School of Washington, will represent single-member District 12 on ANC 5C. The district is bounded by Fourth, Seventh, Franklin and Irving streets NE.
Shaub, an only child who was born in the District, moved to the neighborhood with his mother less than two years ago.
"I feel pretty honored being an ANC commissioner," he said. "I want to do a good job. I don't know exactly what my responsibilities are, but when I find out, I am going to pursue them the best I can."
He said he already has "great plans," which include starting an anti-drug campaign and a drive to get dropouts to return to school.
"I am responsible for 2,000 people," he said, "and I am going to make sure my people are satisfied."