Tensions begin to rise between ANC student candidates

August 24, 2012

This November, Georgetown students will have the opportunity to elect two representatives to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) for the first time.

Peter Prindiville (SFS ‘14) and Craig Cassey Jr. (COL ‘15) have announced their intention to replace Jake Sticka (COL ‘13). Sticka currently occupies the only student seat on the panel responsible for neighborhood governance and working with the University to implement  the 2010 Campus Plan passed last year. The two aspirants share a common goal of standing up for students in a system dominated by the neighbors, but that doesn’t mean they are seeing completely eye to eye in the election.

One major source of tension between the candidates comes from campaign strategy. To qualify for the November ballot, potential candidates needed to collect 25 signatures from residents in their district between July 9 and Aug. 8. Prindiville picked up his papers the first day they were available and turned them in four days later, making him the second candidate in the entire District to do so. Cassey, by contrast, never collected the required number of signatures. He now plans to run a write-in campaign. His failure to get his name on the ballot did not sit well with Prindiville. When asked what he thought of Cassey, Prindiville said, “I don’t think it’s really appropriate for me to say. What I would say is that he missed the deadline to submit his petition statements.”

For his part, Cassey says he worked extensively with the Georgetown College Democrats and D.C. Students Speak to register students to vote in the District. However, “One thing I did not focus on in particular,” he said, “was registering students who would be here in the summer. In hindsight I think it is important to have registered voters who will be on campus in the summer for when the petition process occurs.” Cassey also pointed to difficulties with registration for students, saying “Although I got close to the amount of petitions needed to be put on the ballot, a lot of students had not updated their ballots to their current locations… In the future I’d like to make it easier for people to, first off, change their registration to their current address.”

That reasoning didn’t hold water for Prindiville. “I picked up my petitions the first day they were available,” he said. “I had consistent contact with students, faculty members, chaplins-in-residence who lived within my district starting two months before the petition period. I made Freedom of Information request to get voter rolls. I was ready…The argument that there aren’t students on campus has some validity, but I would just point to my case and say not only did I do it, but I did it in four days.”

Prindiville also pointed to the Jesuit Residence, which is in Cassey’s district, as a place where he could have collected more signatures. But Cassey said that location posed its own problems. “There were Jesuits who were abroad,” he said. “There were Jesuits who were here and who signed my petition—happily so… And there were some who were not registered to vote in D.C. … I just simply can’t say why. But I can say that in terms of the Jesuits who were interested they all supported the idea of more students on the ANC.”

While qualms over the ballot petitions probably won’t have much impact on how either candidate would govern, their policy proposals are a point of contestation as well. The two men align on many of the big issues, such as their opinions of the campus plan and a desire to increase student involvement in the ANC, but Prindiville has amassed a long list of specific plans and goals, while Cassey has yet to go public with detailed proposals. This concerns Prindiville. When asked if he would write in Cassey if he lived in his district, Prindiville balked. “I don’t think I could say at this point,” he said. “I haven’t seen enough policy related statements to really make an informed decision… And it is about policy in the end. It’s about what you think and what you want to see done.” He went on to say that it would be “great” if another candidate surfaced in Cassey’s district, saying it has been too long since there was a contested ANC election.

“I will make public my opinions on policies in place, and the policies I hope to see put in place in the future,” Cassey said in response. He also downplayed the importance of policy at this point in the race.

“A position like this is multidimensional and it warrants more than just a focus on policy,” he said. “Yes, a focus on policy partially is important. Being able though to maintain relationships with other individuals outside in the community is also important to this role.”

Either way, when asked if he knew enough at this point to deserve election Cassey remained confident. “To be elected, yes. Will I be learning more in the future to continue to do more than a simply adequate job? Certainly. Being on the ANC board isn’t just about knowing things now. It’s about content, that information… And so I will say I am still in the process of gathering all the information that I can and I will not stop doing that, and that’s part of the job.”

Gavin Bade
Gavin Bade is a former Editor in Chief of The Georgetown Voice

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