Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interview: ANC 3F01 Candidate Adam Tope

Photograph courtesy of Mr. Tope
Adam Tope is an associate with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP. He is currently running for ANC 3F01 and answered several questions for our readers.

Why are you running for the ANC?

"I moved to ANC 3F from Ward 6, Chinatown.  The ANC in Chinatown was transparent, connected to the community and always on top of the issues in the neighborhood.  It anticipated future issues and worked as a tireless advocate for the neighborhood with various DC agencies.

"Based on my experiences living in ANC 3F, our ANC is very reactionary and doesn’t facilitate discussion and advocacy of big picture issues.  I’m running for ANC to bring about significant change to the way ANC 3F operates and communicates with the community.  I want to make the ANC more transparent and accessible and get the ANC on the top of the mind of all of my neighbors as a source of ideas and solutions for community issues rather than it serving as the place you go to vent frustrations after the fact.

"I am hoping that I can use my energy and creativity, as well as my track record as a results-oriented strategic leader, to move our ANC forward from being not only the place you go to get support for a new fence or home renovation, but also move it towards being an institution that focuses on big-picture community issues, for example UDC, and works with neighbors and neighborhood groups to foster ideas that will move our already great neighborhood to the next level."

What role do you see the ANC playing in the local community?

"The ANC should act as the facilitator of communications between the community and DC agencies. I’m not convinced it currently does.  When campaigning, I was shocked that many 10-20-30-year residents had no idea what the ANC was or did.  It should not be this way.

"The only way the ANC will be successful is by having constant contact with the community.  This means holding SMD-only meetings and engaging the community so everyone knows their commissioner and feels comfortable raising their concerns and voicing their opinions.

"The ANC also needs to be transparent so all SMD residents know what the ANC is, what it is doing and what it can do for them.  By staying connected with the neighborhood, the ANC can get a pulse of the neighborhood’s opinions and advocate for the issues we feel are important."

What do you see as the most pressing issues for the neighborhood, and how should they be addressed?

"I’m glad you asked this question.  When I started my candidacy for ANC back in August, I set up a web site that included a survey for my neighbors.  Based on the responses I have received to date, I can tell you that the most pressing issues are ANC transparency and public safety.

"The ANC’s transparency and relationship with the community need to be drastically overhauled.  ANC 3F is one of the few ANCs without an up-to-date web site and any consistent ongoing communication with the community members.  In many ways, ANC 3F is distinguished from other ANCs by being a black box.  No one knows what goes in, comes out or goes on inside.

"Addressing transparency is fairly simple, but needs knowledgeable, energetic leadership to implement.  As I have mentioned in my campaign, if elected, I will quickly design and implement a legitimate, up-to-date web site for the ANC.  I will set up facebook and twitter accounts to distribute information.  I will also make sure ANC agendas are consistently posted to community email listservs, minutes are posted quickly to the web site, and that all communications include the various apartment/condo buildings in our ANC.  My goal is to make sure that anyone that wants to know what is going on in the ANC can easily find out.

"Regarding safety, the ANC needs to increase its advocacy with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  It also needs to help bring the community together to educate them about crime issues and how to protect themselves, their homes, cars and families from crime.

"As the MPD Block Captain of my block of Reno Road, I have taken a short crime-fighting course that I believe everyone in the neighborhood would benefit from attending.  I think a version of this course should be offered locally, often and to anyone in the neighborhood.  I also want to expand the Block Captain program to every block in our ANC.  I think the ANC is an appropriate organization to spearhead anti-crime education and disbursement of crime-related information to the community.  It should also act as an liaison with the MPD, Uniformed Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies in our neighborhood to decrease crime."

Is there anything else that I didn't ask you that you'd like to share with our readers?

"I’m currently running in the only contested seat in our ANC.  This is the first time it has been contested in many years.  While my opponent would probably make an acceptable commissioner, I question his true interest in serving on the ANC and what his dedication to the position would be.  After all, he hasn’t campaigned and did pick up his ballot petition only hours before the deadline.

"I believe what sets me apart from my opponent is my creativity, energy and drive to move the ANC forward. Since moving to our neighborhood, I’ve been involved in the community.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m the MPD Block Capitan for my block of Reno Road, which has helped foster friendships with my neighbors and a relationship with the MPD.  I also was selected by Mary Cheh as a Ward 3 member to the DC Council Census Committee.  On the Committee, I spearheaded Ward 3’s Census promotion activities by designing and printing Census-related posters and other materials and distributing these promotional materials to Ward 3 businesses so they could promote the Census.

"I think our ANC currently suffers a general malaise and lack of strategic vision.  The transition from the Fenty administration to the Gray administration presents an opportunity to change the ANC’s relationship with DC.  I think I can bring new energy to the institution to improve its transparency, community relations and get it back on its feet to act as a strong advocate for SMD 3F01’s and ANC 3F’s interests."

Update: You can read an interview with ANC 3F01 candidate Michael Siegel here.

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