ANC 2E Contests Offer Neighborhood Perspectives

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ANC2E candidates Gwen Lohse, Topher Mathews, Jenny Mitchell and Matthew O'Donnell. Campaign photos.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E is like the city council of Georgetown, Burleith and Hillandale. Eight elected commissioners, representing designated sections of the area, meet monthly, providing a forum for community concerns on just about everything that affects the daily life of residents.

In the Nov. 3 election, there is competition for two of the ANC 2E seats. Christopher Mathews and Jenny Mitchell are vying for the 02 seat that covers central neighborhoods of Georgetown, mostly west of Wisconsin; the seat became open when longtime Commissioner Joe Gibbons announced he was retiring. Gwendolyn Lohse, the commissioner for 06, the central-east section of Georgetown, is facing a late-announcing competitor, Matthew O’Donnell.

The Georgetowner asked the candidates to respond briefly to two questions: What are the biggest challenges for Georgetown in 2021? And why are they running? Here are their answers (shortened for space reasons), along with some biographical information.

Lohse, the 06 incumbent, lives on O Street near Christ Church with her husband and her 6-year-old daughter. For decades, she was a strategic planner involved with health care policy development. She notes that her action-oriented experience in consensus building among diverse parties has served her well to collaborate on ANC projects such as streateries, parklets, a new athletic field at Rose Park, the completion of interior renovations at the park’s recreation hut, strengthening community relations with police leadership and securing bike docking stations.

“I am running because I am committed to promoting the long-term vibrancy of our community,” she writes. “The key challenge facing Georgetown is our response to changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in two areas. [We need to] revitalize our struggling commercial district and quickly adopt creative solutions for crime prevention and resident safety, including local public/private mental health services.”

Matthew O’Donnell writes that working “as a former hotel manager for Marriott, and assisting my roommate, Evan Moses, with the Rock Creek Kings concert series in Rose Park, have given me the opportunity to meet so many of my neighbors and local business owners. I have a passion to serve my community.” He continues: “The greatest challenges Georgetowners are facing are safety and clear communication regarding the pandemic, as well as the turnover of our local businesses. I have heard from my neighbors about their bikes being stolen and vehicle break-ins.

“As ANC commissioner, I pledge to make myself our most responsive ANC yet, via email and with a monthly newsletter to respond to the concerns of our community. I am optimistic about the opportunity presented by vacancies on M Street and Wisconsin. It is important to me that incoming businesses serve the residents of Georgetown while making Georgetown competitive with the increasing number of other popular D.C. neighborhoods.”

Christopher Mathews, known as Topher, is a 17-year Georgetown resident who lives on 33rd Street with his wife and his daughter, who is in third grade. He has been active with the Citizens Association of Georgetown since 2011 — as a member of CAG’s Historic Preservation and Zoning Committee, as chair of its Transportation Committee and as CAG’s representative at the Georgetown Community Partnership and the Business Improvement District’s “Georgetown 2028” project. Mathews also was vice president of Friends of Volta Park and served on Hyde-Addison Elementary’s School Improvement Team. Since 2008, he has produced a daily neighborhood news website, the Georgetown Metropolitan. “Through that, I have become closely familiar with just about every issue that affects Georgetown residents,” he says.

“I don’t think any Georgetowner would want to live in a Georgetown without a vibrant and thriving collection of shops and restaurants within walking distance from our homes,” Mathews writes. “The ANC must continue to work closely with the business community to best weather the challenges faced by the coronavirus. Outdoor ‘streateries’ and slow streets would be one of my primary focuses.”

Jenny Mitchell has lived in Georgetown for over 20 years, raising four children with her husband Jack Maier. She was a CAG Public Safety Program block captain, a PTA president and a volunteer with her local church community, serving dinner to the homeless and delivering food to residents in need. Chief operating officer of a startup food company, she has been CEO of an international manufacturing company and local board chair of the Society of International Business Fellows.

“Public safety and struggling businesses are two of the biggest challenges our community faces,” Mitchell writes. “I will work with you, MPD, BID, CAG and other stakeholders to present ideas and find solutions. I will also work to maintain the historic character that makes our community a beautiful and unique place in which to live.” 

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