Anna Landre (SFS ’21) was sworn into her role as a commissioner on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E on Feb. 4. She is joined by Matias Burdman (COL ’21), who was also elected to the ANC last fall.
Landre, who initially became interested in local politics when she volunteered for her county’s Democratic party in high school, hopes to expand accessibility on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods that the ANC represents. “I’m a wheelchair user, so a lot of the inaccessible parts of Georgetown—both the campus and the neighborhood itself— are really big barriers to me and are really big barriers to others as well,” Landre said.
According to the CDC, one in four Americans lives with a disability that has a major effect on their life. Additionally, one in seven adults lives with a mobility disability. Landre aims to shift local government attention to issues of accessibility that she feels often get ignored. “It’s a big cross-cutting issue that a lot of people don’t pay attention to, and it’s something that gets overlooked a lot that I want to make a personal priority of mine.”
Though the ANC does not have official legislative power, it serves as the “neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government…on things that affect their neighborhoods,” according to the District’s website. The commission is consulted on major infrastructure and transportation projects, which Landre hopes to steer in a more accessibility-minded direction.
The main obstacle to creating accessible infrastructure, she said, is less about developers and project managers actively fighting accessibility measures and more about accessibility never being considered in the first place. “I think creating this consciousness is a lot of what I’m trying to do because once you create it, people are going to look for solutions,” Landre said. She believes that small businesses would be willing to set up inexpensive portable ramps to their storefronts, for example, if they were encouraged to do so.
Landre has also advised university committees on how to build accessible dorms on campus in the future. For example, the plans the university was considering for a future dorm would only have offered single-person rooms to students with disabilities, preventing them from having a roommate, Landre said. When she pointed out the issue, the proposed design was changed.
Like Landre, Burdman was attracted to working on more detail-oriented issues that often escape public discussion. “It’s everything from transportation to infrastructure to student life on campus that we deal with,” he said.
For Burdman, local government offers the opportunity to interact with constituents on a more personal level than larger levels of government. “You interact with the neighborhoods, you interact with the students, too. You interact with the administrators,” Burdman said. “You just sort of work with all of them to try and make Georgetown—the university and its neighborhood—a better place.”