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DC ANC 6D05 Commissioner

Duties: Serves as a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). Commissioners represent the views of residents of their Single Member District (SMD). After deliberation and votes, the ANC Commission advises the Mayor, Council and executive agencies in local matters such as parking, zoning, traffic, liquor licenses, permits, etc.

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    Ashton Rohmer

Información Biográfica

What is the most important issue facing your Single Member District and how do you intend to address it?

How will you engage with residents to be an effective Commissioner, especially reaching those who are unfamiliar with the role and value of ANCs?

Is there a question you wish we had asked? If so, what is the question and how would you answer it?

Qualifications I’m currently a PhD student in Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University researching how community engagement practices influence local urban change processes, particularly around transportation policies for safer streets and more sustainable transportation options to create a more just, healthy, peaceful society. Moreover, as an urban planner with a background in climate resilience, I understand how housing, transportation, public health, education, environmental justice, and economic opportunity are not separate ideas but tightly integrated concepts. In fact, through a project I recently led to learn about how Southwest residents are experiencing changes in the neighborhood, I listened to stories shared by dozens of neighbors that highlighted how these issues are impacting people on a daily basis. I regularly attend ANC meetings so have an appreciation for the time, patience, and effort required to serve the public interest, and want to bring a spirit of compassion, inquiry, and collaboration to the role so that we can improve the quality of life for everyone in Southwest.
Campaign Twitter Handle @@AshtonInDC
The biggest issue in my SMD is the increasing divide between newer, higher-income (mainly white) residents and lower-income (mainly Black) residents. I've heard neighbors say they don't feel welcome when people walk past them without saying hi or looking up from their phones. I see disparaging comments on Nextdoor about young people of color. I see disparities in health outcomes and housing opportunities. This is disheartening, and while I personally try to be friendly while out in the neighborhood, I realize that there is only so much that an ANC can do to influence interpersonal or even structural processes to shift this dynamic. However, we can start with ensuring the Build First promise made to Greenleaf residents is honored, that housing at varying levels of affordability/size to accommodate different living situations is featured in new developments, and that small businesses catering to the needs of residents can thrive. If elected, I would support these efforts.
While I have a Twitter handle, I'd like to create a more robust online presence so that I can model transparency and responsiveness to constituent needs. I also know that a lot of people don't engage with their representatives online, so will continue to be an active, visible presence in the neighborhood - I'm already a frequent attendant at neighborhood events and have been engaging in conversations with folks to learn about the issues they face. I'd also like to experiment with other ways of reaching my neighbors - one idea I'd like to try is hosting monthly neighborhood walks to get a sense of what current conditions are, to give my neighbors a chance to share their concerns with me while getting out and about in Southwest, and to offer an opportunity for neighbors to meet and build a stronger sense of community.
It seems like the hardest part about being a Commissioner is making a decision about an issue that has widely varying opinions within the neighborhood and also has impacts far beyond the boundaries of the ANC. There is hardly ever "one community voice", and Commissioners must take the broader public good into consideration while ensuring community members feel heard (even if their stance is at the expense of broader benefits, e.g., sacrificing street safety to preserve convenient and cheap parking). The question I wish you had asked is how I would approach making decisions on behalf of my ANC, and I would have said: it is important for Commissioners to listen to the concerns of residents, while balancing their needs with what's best for the neighborhood and District more broadly. It's my job to do as much outreach as possible to understand all sides of an issue, and then to make a choice based on what I think will benefit my neighborhood and the most people in the short and long term.