Meet your new elected officials! On January 2, 2021, 19 newly-elected representatives were sworn in for the five Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs). The ceremony, like much of the campaign, took place virtually, with Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray (D) administering the oath of office.
Everyday, we’ll introduce you to one of them.
Commissioners serve two-year terms without pay. Each commissioner represents a Single Member District (SMD) of approximately 2,000 residents. The ANCs’ main role in the District is to be their neighborhood’s official voice in advising the District government (and Federal agencies) on things that affect their neighborhoods.
They come to a difficult job in a difficult time, meeting virtually to help residents confront the all-too-real issues raised and, in many cases, exacerbated by the pandemic, including issues of health, public safety, education and housing.
The large incoming class means that many Ward 7 ANCs will meet in January with a majority of their seven seats filled by new commissioners. ANC 7B, serving Southeast Pennsylvania Heights (anc7b.com) will welcome five new elected members to their 7-seat commission.
Chioma J. Iwuoha (7B01) At the end of election night, Chiowa J. Iwuoha (7B01) was down by 36 votes and said she nearly conceded the race. However, as ballots continued to be counted in the days following, the tide turned. Iwuoha won the office by two votes.
A native Washingtonian and the mother of an elementary-aged child, Iwuoha came to Ward 7 from Shaw seven years ago and immediately felt the disparity in access to resources and services between the two sides of town.
As a mother raising a produce-loving, 7-year-old pescatarian, Iwuoha said access to fresh, affordable and healthy food is a priority for her. “I will have to go out of the ward in order to get it for her,” she said, “which is just a huge problem right now.”
She wants to ensure people will be able to secure quality employment, and said new projects in Ward 7 should employ residents. Work enables residents to stay in their homes, she said, and COVID-19 illustrates the ways that housing and safety are critically linked.
In 2018, she became an At-Large member for the DC Democratic State Committee, encouraged by friends to run primarily because she was not a politician. After two years in the at-large role, she said she wanted to concentrate her energy on her neighborhood. Iwuoha said she brings a more hands-on work ethic and a democratic-socialist viewpoint to office.
Public safety is a major concern, and Iwuoha said it is important to engage with youth and make them change agents. The community has the power to resolve issues that are typically handled by the police, she said.
“The community knows how you feel about them based on how you treat them.” she said. “For me, it’s about how do you funnel the things into the community that show people that they’re valued, they’re worthy and that shifts the attitude and the energy of people there?”
Reach Commissioner Iwuoha via email at 7B01@anc.dc.gov
An earlier version of this article mis-spelled Commissioner Iwuoha’s first name. It is Chioma Iwuoha, not Chiowa Iwuoha. East of the River Magazine deeply regrets the error.