Increasing numbers of group homes, too many stores selling single cans of beer, the lack of police patrols and missing financial records rarely surfaced in the mayoral race last week, but those and other intensely local issues fueled heated Advisory Neighborhood Commission races across the city.
The District had 78 contested elections for ANC seats Nov. 5, up from 48 in 1998. The increase in candidates illustrates the intensity of certain neighborhood issues and a growing belief that the ANCs can play a role in solving them, candidates said.
Even so, more than 50 districts had no candidates on the ballots, and in three, no votes were cast for anyone.
The ANC system was established by federal law in 1976 under the city's Home Rule Charter to represent neighborhoods and advise city government. Each ANC commissioner represents 2,000 residents -- not necessarily voters. In several races, more than 600 votes were cast. Jourdinia Smith-Brown received 789 votes -- and she was running unopposed.
Ron Evans, 64, a real estate broker who lives in Ward 5, said that interest in ANCs has grown in his neighborhood over the last couple of years as residents pushed for better control of the number of group homes, more police presence and better traffic management.
"There are also some things officials can't do anything about, and that we have to deal with as a community," including visits by racoons and even foxes to the neighborhood, he said.
"Animal control will not do anything about this because these are indigenous animals," Evans said, but "what we could do as an ANC was . . . for example, to promote garbage control to make sure that the animals will not find anything to eat."
Cody Rice, 31, a federal government economist who won an ANC election in Ward 6, said interest in ANC positions was fueled in his neighborhood by concern over problems with the previous ANC.
"The former ANC had its account frozen and its checkbook taken away by the D.C. auditor because a number of expenses have been spent without proper documentation," he said.
Single-member ANC districts are grouped into 37 commissions, which receive quarterly allotments of $3,000 to $8,000. Their accounts are in the process of being audited.
Jeffrey Tignor, 28, who won a relatively close election in Ward 4, said the existence of more than one candidate brought out a larger vote. He received 303 votes to Amanda "Amy" Hatcher Lyon's 254. He said that he and his competitor handed out fliers, knocked on people's doors and talked to constituents.
Tignor promised to work for "negotiated agreements" with markets that sell liquor.
"I believe that the ANC should work more closely with owners, and there is going to be more communication than there had been in the past," he said.
Bob Morris, 51, from Ward 6, said he "door-knocked the whole neighborhood."
"I told them about the things I have been working on, and I listened to what they had to say," Morris said.
"One issue that was raised by many was trash management. People complained that after they separated their garbage for recycling, the trash company people would come and put everything back together," he said.
Robert Maudlin, 75, won a very tight election in Ward 3, gaining 319 of the 630 votes cast. By comparison, only 144 people voted in the last such election.
Thetus Boyd from Ward 7 said the turnout has always been high in her neighborhood. "As a community, we insist upon not being overlooked, and we work hard to make sure that we get an equal share of what is available for the citizens of D.C.," she said.
Many of the new ANC commissioners will win election as write-in candidates. Their races were undecided as of press time. Write-in candidates have seven days after the election to declare their candidacy for the job. After that happens, the Board of Elections then determines which official write-in candidate received the most votes and has been elected.
The write-in candidates who had declared their candidacies by Friday are: Linda Lawson, 1A02; Angela S. Nance, 1A02; Regina M. Upchurch, 1A08; Barbara BiTondo, 1D01; Katherine "Kai" Butler, 1D05; Peter Muller, 1D05; Ernest L. Thomas, 1D06; Sandra Permutte, 2D01; Mary Eva Candon, 2D02; Michael Glick, 2E04; Michael Halpin, 3B04; Richard C. Bartel, 3C04; Julie Benjamin, 3C06; Hugh G. Mullane, 3D01; Amy Hoang, 3E02; Roger S. Sattler, 3E02; Matthew Helfant, 3E05; Carl R. Kessler 3F01; Judith M. Bernardi, 3F05; Kenneth S. Katz, 3F05; Charles R. Lowery Jr., 4A04; Alfreda C. Mauuso, 4C01; Lisa R. Russell, 4D02; Cynthia M. Reid, 5A04; Marvin Tucker, 5B04; Jean S.D.F. Taylor, 5B12; Derrick O. Holloway, 5C12; Colleen Harris, 6A08; Charlene P. Exum, 7A04; Raymond Keith, 7B06; Kinon Blake, 8A02; Barbara Clark, 8A02; Beverly Jordan, 8A05; Frank T. Green III, 8A07; Lendia Johnson, 8A07; and Evelyn Scott, 8B02.