The Role of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner
The first question I ask when meeting a neighbor during my petition drive is: "I am running for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner . . . Have you ever heard of that office, do you know what ANCs do?" Half of the time, the answer is "not really." This phenomenon suggests that we are not doing enough to make the ANC accessible to all of the people (although a recent poll found that most Americans don't realize that there are three branches of the federal government!).
The official description of the office of ANC can be found on the official ANC website:
It's really that simple. It doesn't take a Democrat or Republican or Green Party or independent person to do the best job in the position of ANC. Instead, the best person is someone who has the ability to set aside personal bias, listen to concerns, and zealously advocate on behalf of constituents. Are you concerned about gentrification? About crime? You should try to attend every ANC meeting you can.
An Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) is a nonpartisan neighborhood organization that serves as the neighborhood's official voice in advising the District government and Federal agencies on matters that affect its service area. Issues include zoning, streets, recreation, education, social services, sanitation, planning, safety, and health. District officials must obtain ANCs' recommendations on these matters but need not follow the recommendations. The ANCs' most important power, therefore, is the power of involved and concerned citizens.
There have been times in my career as a lawyer that I have had to advocate positions that I didn't personally agree with. The key is: what is in the best interest of the client and how can I zealously advance my client's interests? And so it goes with the ANC.