Ward 6 Supports Our ANCs
Thanks to the efforts of our Young Dems of Ward 6 committee, the Ward 6 Democrats have developed a positive working relationship with our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs), as a result of which we learned that our ANCs have unfilled needs that are preventing them from most effectively fulfilling their purpose of bringing our local government closer to people and bringing people closer to our local government.
After discussion with the Ward 6 Dems leadership, the Ward 6 Dems filed a letter of support with the DC Council Committee on Government Operations and Facilities on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. The letter advocates for dedicated resources to meet these ANC needs.
We believe all Washingtonians deserve ANCs that are functional, well-resourced, and accessible. We have outlined specific areas of need that we consistently heard in conversations. We encourage you to join us in expressing your support of these critical elected bodies.
TO: DC Council Committee on Government Operations and Facilities FROM: Ward 6 Democrats Executive Committee
RE: The Ward 6 Democrats support for additional resources for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions
Chairperson White and Members of the Committee,
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) keep the District of Columbia government and federally-embedded entities connected with local residents. Each year, nearly 300 unpaid volunteers serve as elected commissioners representing the District’s single member districts. These public servants are tasked with representing thousands of constituents, helping them navigate complex policy issues from crosswalk installations to broader topics such as poverty, housing, and criminal justice. While ANC positions are non-partisan, the Ward 6 Democrats recognize the vital role that ANC commissioners play in ensuring greater representation of and engagement with our neighborhoods.
Over the past year, the Ward 6 Democrats have hosted a number of “Meet Your ANC” events. These forums have allowed Ward 6 constituents to engage directly with Ward 6 commissioners to better understand the role of ANCs, the critical work commissioners perform in our communities, and how constituents can better participate in the democratic process.
Over the course of these discussions, the Ward 6 Democrats have identified two key areas we believe should be addressed by the DC Council. Addressing these areas will reduce the burden placed on these uncompensated elected officials and allow them to more effectively represent their communities and keep their constituents engaged.
ANCs lack adequate administrative resources to effectively perform their duties. Commissioners have shared that their commissions lack basic resources to cover the costs of researching issues, hosting forums, and providing copies of letters with citizen comments on issues. For example, volunteer commissioners manage and maintain their own websites. They lack access to professional printing services, and have access to a very limited, shared staff through the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions for technical assistance. Many commissioners pay out of pocket for materially necessary items, such as printing. We believe commissioners should be provided access to funds and resources necessary to cover the costs of performing their required duties as elected officials.
ANCs are concerned about losing access to their constituents if the DC government does not plan for sustained virtual meeting formats. COVID-19 has accelerated the use of virtual meeting technology which has increased accessibility of ANC meetings to constituents. Commissioners are concerned that they will lose access to these virtual tools when the authorizing order expires. Additionally, the specific use of WebEx does not provide adequate accessibility functions to those who need adaptive tools to participate. To preserve equity and transparency in ANC meetings, we believe commissioners should have permanent access to virtual meeting tools, with appropriate accessibility functions and resources such as interpreters, and that commission meetings should permanently retain a virtual element once in-person ANC meetings resume.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissions have not been supported adequately by the DC Council and the Office Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. Commissioners tell us that there have been a variety of resolutions and proposals to provide these essential tools and offerings to commissioners and their constituents. Yet, despite the District of Columbia’s budget surpluses, these resolutions have not been reflected in policy, including the most recent budget resolutions. We believe the ANCs should be provided the requested resources.
ANCs have and will continue to play a critical role as the elected representatives serving our neighborhoods. In Ward 6, we are fortunate to have a combination of experienced community leaders and rising young commissioners join together to advance these important representative bodies. As the District of Columbia continues its march toward statehood and expanded self-governance, we look forward to the Council providing the necessary financial support and resources to empower ANCs to be the transparent, accessible, and responsive bodies they were designed to be.
Ward 6 Democrats Executive Committee
Councilmember Robert White (At-Large), Chair, Committee on Government Operations and Facilities
Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6)
Amber Gove, Chair, ANC 6A
Corey Holman, Chair, ANC 6B
Karen Wirt, Chair, ANC 6C
Edward Daniels, Chair, ANC 6D
Michael Eichler, Chair, ANC 6E