Saturday, March 5, 2022

Still Life with Robin: An Editorial

by Peggy Robin
I'm taking the occasion of my weekly column -- until now, always apolitical, sticking to subjects like winter storm names and Bounty paper towels -- to put forth an editorial on an issue currently generating a lot of political heat. And causing me a fair amount of heartburn.
What's the hot topic? ANC redistricting.
And just why am I so steamed? They're messing with my history. When I was young and single (and had time for all those late-into-the-night meetings!), I was a commissioner on ANC 3C. I served in this volunteer position from 1981 to 1988, and spent my next to last year as its chair. Back then, the ANC was like my baby. 
Now they want to tear my baby in two!
ANC 3C had ten commissioners in my first term, and after the 1980 redistricting, it lost one and has had nine ever since. It represents six complete neighborhoods: Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, Cathedral Heights, Massachusetts Avenue Heights, Woodland-Normanstone, and McLean Gardens.
The size of each of the 40 ANCs in DC can vary greatly; the only constant being that each single member district must have roughly 2,000 constituents (give or take a couple of hundred). There are ANCs as small as two commissioners but quite a few as large as twelve. It should be obvious that bigger is better. When you have more commissioners, it means more hands to do the work -- serve as chair, vice-chair, treasurer, secretary, and committee chairs. It means more funding from the DC government, which in turn affects the ability to maintain an office, hire a part-time staffperson, and get a quorum to get things done at meetings. And it means more people to attend the meetings, and serve on committees, and participate in the most local level of democracy.
Want to weaken ANCs? Simple -- make the larger ones smaller.
Weakening of the most effective ANCs -- which are the true grass-roots movers & shakers of the city, your first stop whenever there's an issue that affects you and your family -- is the main thing the proposed redistricting plan will accomplish.
So here's my editorial boiled down to one sentence: Keep Ward 3 ANCs strong and whole -- don't chop them up!
Public comments can be submitted here: and by email to our Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh at, and to Council Member Elissa Silverman, who chairs the Redistricting Subcommittee, at, and to Council Chair Phil Mendelson at If you write to Council Chair Mendelson, you might want to note that during his multiple terms as the chair of ANC 3C, it was one of the most active and effective ANCs in the entire city, and it would be a shame to see it so reduced.   
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. ys.

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