Notes From the TNA Trinidad ANC Candidate Forum
I wasn't able to make last night's ANC candidate forum, but I've got notes to share anyway. These are notes put together by Trinidad resident Geoff Hatchard, who was kind enough to share them. Geoff blogs at Greater, Greater Washington, and the District Curmudgeon.
The first person to introduce herself was Thalia Wiggins, the current commissioner in 5B06. She stated that she's looking forward to reelection. She believes she's done a good job representing her constituents and deserves the chance to continue. She has been working part-time on her pet-sitting business, as well as schooling, and stays busy with all of these efforts.
Next, Tina Laskaris, the current commissioner in 5B08 spoke. She noted that she has gotten a lot done since being elected in 2008. She's partnered with her challenger from that election (Yvonne Buggs, who was there to heartily endorse Tina) to move the neighborhood forward. Tina says her biggest accomplishment was getting the new Joe Cole Community Center built. Within a week of her election, Mayor Fenty was in the neighborhood to propose tearing the old Center down (and not replace it) to create a field for Wheatley Elementary. Tina argued that the at-risk youth in the southern part of the neighborhood needed somewhere to go, since there is still tension between the northern and southern parts of Trinidad. She has also helped get many speed bumps installed on neighborhood streets, has worked with DPW, DDOT, and MPD to get things done in the neighborhood, and was named Citizen of the Year in PSA504 for her efforts. She is also receiving an award from the 5D Commander this year. Going forward, she is working with others on an arts overlay for the neighborhood and a Great Streets program for Bladensburg Road.
After Tina, Laura Casperson, who is running for the 5B07 seat against the incumbent, David Hooper, and the former 5B07 commissioner, Arthur Yarbrough, spoke. Laura and her husband moved into the neighborhood 3 years ago, and she got involved with the Trinidad-Ivy City Garden Club and the Trinidad Neighborhood Association soon after moving in. She wants to work to beautify the neighborhood, down to simple things such as cleaning out treeboxes. Laura was motivated to run for the ANC after two cars ran off the road onto her property within a short span of time. She went to her ANC commissioner to ask for help, and he replied that there was nothing that could be done. Laura feels that we need to work to bring the positives of the neighborhood to light, not the negatives that attract the most attention.
Next, we heard from Camille Tucker, who is running for the 5B10 seat. Ms. Tucker has lived on Queen Street in Trinidad since 2007. She's originally from Massachusetts, was a social worker for 10 years, went to law school at night, and is now an assistant Attorney General who prosecutes cases of child abuse and neglect. She had to deal with drug dealing down the street from her house, and the police said that they were having a hard time closing cases because people in the neighborhood would not come forward to help put an end to criminal behavior. Camille volunteered to help the police, and now the drug dealing has been greatly reduced. She noted that if nobody is willing to do things, they don't get done. She's willing to take risks, and wants to be part of the conversation on how to make a better neighborhood—and doesn't feel the need to dominate the conversation.
Finally, we got to hear from Connell Wise, who is running against Tina Laskaris in 5B08. Connell is a 20 year-old native of Trinidad, raised on the 1200 block of Orren Street, and a non-profit management student at Curry College in Massachusetts. Connell is running for many reasons, one of which is to show that young people can do great things, and that they can be role models for each other. He is a national youth rights advocate, founder and CEO of the U.S. Youth Chamber of Commerce, and has worked for the Executive Office of the Mayor here in DC. Connell believes that Trinidad has received a bad name due to violence and crime perpetrated by individuals from outside the neighborhood who have come here to cause problems. He believe that young people are able to discuss their problems with someone their own age, because it's easier for them to relate to someone who has more recently been through the same situations they have. Connell is working on getting 17 year-olds the right to vote in DC primaries, and wants to help show how technology can be used to better the lives of both young and old in the neighborhood. He would like to see better communication between city agencies and ANC commissioners, including the possibility of having commissioners automatically copied on correspondence to city agencies so they'll know what's going on in their SMD.
Jacqueline Manning, who is the commissioner in 5B09 spoke to all at the meeting, stressing the importance of everyone working together no matter who wins in the elections next week. Noting that everyone running must care about their neighborhood, she stated that there was no reason why people shouldn't stay involved after the election, win or lose.