AU candidates should learn from mistakes

November 11, 2010

On Nov. 2, Georgetown students elected Jake Sticka (COL ’13) to be one of seven commissioners on Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Sticka will now represent students on crucial issues ranging from alcohol licenses to the University’s construction plans for the next decade. Unfortunately, American University students trying to elect their own ANC representative made some careless mistakes that may cost them their voice in local government.

Though the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will not release the final results until Nov. 12, preliminary results show that AU freshman Tyler Sadonis only received about 15 percent of the vote in his district, which is heavily populated by neighborhood residents. AU freshman Deon Jones, candidate for the district that is almost entirely comprised of AU students and property, may lose to a last-minute write-in challenger, a permanent resident living in that district.

In the lead up to their probable losses, students in charge of the AU voter registration drive, A Voice 4 U, made some bad choices. First, the organizers assured students they could vote in the D.C. election this year and re-register to vote in their home states in 2012. This may be true in the letter of the law, but it made the student advocates look like carpet baggers and mobilized residents against them.  The two AU candidates were also both freshmen, meaning they did not reside in the District 60 days before they registered as candidates and were not legally eligible to be on the ballot.  Furthermore, the donations from A Voice 4 U likely exceeded the individual campaign donation limit of $25, campaign literature was missing the legally required disclosures, and the group failed to file a political action committee statement of organization.

On Election Day, the Precinct 9 poll watchers—including one of Georgetown’s own ANC commissioners, Bill Starrels—challenged about 35 student voters, according to the AU Eagle. There is a long history of neighbors intimidating student voters in ANC elections, including a particularly contentious election in Georgetown in 1996, when the first Georgetown students ran for ANC. If A Voice 4 U had been more careful in their campaign, it would have been easier to stand up for students’ voting rights.

Because District agencies are legally required to take ANC recommendations into consideration when making important decisions, ANC resolutions can have a big impact on student life. For example, the Georgetown ANC urged the Board of Zoning Adjustment to shutter Philly Pizza, Georgetown’s beloved pizzeria. When the University goes to the D.C. Zoning Commission for approval of its ten-year construction plans, the ANC may attempt to keep the plan from getting passed.
The AU Eagle reported that in a DCBOEE hearing about the allegations of misconduct, A Voice 4 U’s financial director Ed Levandoski said, “As students, it is a learning process. There are bound to be some minor mistakes.” A Voice 4 U recognized the power of ANCs to shape student life.  Although AU students bungled the campaign this cycle, hopefully they can learn from their mistakes and achieve representation in the next election.

Editorial Board
The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead. The Board strives to publish critical analyses of events at both Georgetown and in the wider D.C. community. We welcome everyone from all backgrounds and experience levels to join us!


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