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.
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. 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.
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.
Meet your newly elected representative below. Learn more about ANCs by visiting anc.dc.gov.
Whitney Weston (7F03) and her spouse have lived just off Benning Road since 2009. She has an undergraduate degree from Hood College, a Master’s in organizational management from Trinity and currently works in the program office of an area shipbuilding and defense company.
Weston said she decided to run for ANC because she wanted to make the changes she wanted to see. Ready to take on community work in an official capacity, she said she was guided by the adage, “If not you, then who?”
“I can’t look for other people to make any changes in my community if I’m not going to be the one out there, really championing for those changes,” she said.
Weston said the major issue she has heard residents emphasize is public safety, especially for the many children in the area. “I think it is important that we are really focusing on making sure that [youth] have the resources they need,” she said, adding that Ward 7 overall needs more recreational areas to keep kids out of streets and commercial spaces.
Economic development is also a key issue, she said. There is a lack of infrastructure in the Benning Road area, Weston noted, and when development comes residents are rarely consulted.
A case in point is the plan to open a halfway house at 3701 Benning Rd. NE. Weston said that returning citizens would benefit from a location with easier access to resources. Everyone understands how important it is for returning citizens to transition into the community, she said. However, the plans were made without consultation with the people who lived there and without sufficient consideration of the impact on economic development or the need for social supports and infrastructure in the area, Weston argued.
“Just because Ward 5 didn’t want it there, it doesn’t mean it has to go to Ward 7 or Ward 8,” she said. Weston said if government funding is in play, the community would like to see funds for a grocery store or earmarked to address the impacts on public health.
The new commissioner said she is here to serve, support and represent her neighbors, and is excited to work towards its safety and economic growth. Reach Commissioner Weston via email at 7F03@anc.dc.gov