Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

ANC Redistricting Has Costs

To the Editor:

THE HOYA is right in pointing out the decline of Campaign Georgetown as a result of its own success (“Revive This Campaign,” THE HOYA, Dec. 3, 2004, A2). With the easing of tensions between neighbors and students over recent years, student interest in the group waned. Unfortunately, so too did the group’s electoral success.

However, it is also important to note the effect of the 2002 redistricting process on Campaign Georgetown and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission. We do not view the establishment of an all-student district as “the biggest success of Campaign Georgetown,” as THE HOYA’s editorial suggests.

The redistricting process eliminated two competitive single member districts, where students had previously been successful over candidates from the neighborhood. Student commissioners serving these divided constituencies were able to earn the respect of residents by resolving community problems in an even-handed manner, showing a keen responsiveness and commitment to all. The redistricting has made demonstrating this commitment much more difficult for students involved in the ANC.

THE HOYA’s reference to Brett Clements (COL ’07) as a “token representative” is symptomatic of precisely these effects of redistricting. This label seems to imply that an all-student commissioner carries less of a mandate and may command less authority in the eyes of his fellow commissioners and the community at-large because of the demographic homogeneity of his constituency. This does not suggest that Clements’ role is diminished. Rather, it means that his tasks will be harder. And these troublesome perceptions of the all-student district will be the legacy of redistricting.

This does not mean Campaign Georgetown should blindly run students in districts that may potentially be contestable. Redistricting is now a fact. The 2002 elections demonstrated that both a high student turnout in the contested districts and a determined effort to win over resident votes will be necessary for success.

The death of Daniel Rigby (MSB ’05) in a preventable accident and the endemic problems with off-campus housing this tragedy exposed, combined with rising crime against students and the university’s ambitious building plans may provide sufficient – almost historic – momentum to mobilize the student vote.

But winning the trust, respect and vote of at least some of our neighbors, though surely a difficult process, will be an equally important prerequisite for a successful campaign.

This demands that potential candidates pick their battles carefully and fight them well.

Matt Ingham (COL ’04) Drew Johnson-Skinner (COL ’04) Dec. 6, 2004

The writers served as co-chairs of Campaign Georgetown from 2002-04.

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