Mayor reaffirms support for Georgetown community
They may not have voted for him, but Georgetown residents gave Mayor Vincent C. Gray a very warm welcome at Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E's monthly meeting Monday. After a laudatory introduction by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, a Georgetown resident, then answering questions about ANC redistricting, Georgetown University’s campus plan and money for Volta Park and praise for city agencies, the Mayor was in control and at the top of his game.
The Mayor's appearance at the ANC was announced last week after neighbors complained about mismanagement of the huge repaving project to replace cobblestone O & P Streets, and city officials swung into action to address complaints of parking nightmares and ticketing. DDOT officials at the meeting Monday announced a new daily e-mail alerting residents to work areas and parking restrictions, as well as a new Twitter account, specific measures the community had asked for.
Gray specifically voiced his support for the position of residents who have opposed Georgetown University's proposed Campus Plan. Community opposition to it is focused on the proposed increase in the number of students who would be housed off-campus, particularly in Georgetown and Burleith. “I support the community,” he said to a round of applause, adding that while he had met with Unviersity President Jack DeGioia, the ANC speaks on “behalf of the community [and their] concerns are well-founded,” including a firm enrollment cap. He also praised recent University-community discussions and it “looks like there is some positive movement and people are working together.”
On the related town-gown topic of ANC redistricting, Gray was questioned about the apparent disparity in representation for students. They make up 45% of the population but will only have two of the eight seats in the proposed new districts. As a ward-level council topic, Evans described the legislative steps ahead for all sides to be heard, but in the end in redistricting, “not everyone goes home happy.”
Self-determination and town-gown relations were combined in an exchange prompted by a question from Commissioner Jake Sticka, a GU student. Sticka asked if the Mayor would support a town hall on university-student relations, to which Gray answered he would, if Sticka would establish a university group for self-determination and statehood for the District. Sticka answered: “We already have two now.”
In the course of the evening, several District agencies were lauded, specifically MPD and the District Department of Transportation. Evans called DDOT “johnny-the-spot” for its overall performance in Georgetown and Commissioner Jeff Jones praised DDOT and its contractors for their work on O & P Streets. “We really appreciate the hard work you’re doing for the community," he said. Commissioner Tom Birch said MPD was very quick and effective in response to a purse-snatching near the 7-11 on P Street.
Gray soundly defeated incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in last year's election by a 53-46 margin, but in Georgetown's Precinct 5, Fenty won 85 percent of the vote to Gray's 13. In Precinct 6, Fenty won with almost 87 percent of the vote.