City Paper Widget

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Interview with Thomas B. Martin, Candidate for ANC2A district 04

This is a written interview with Thomas B. Martin, who is running for Commissioner of district 04 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2A/Foggy Bottom.

Martin's opponent is William K. Smith. Read an interview with Smith here.

District 04 is the district in the lower left corner of the map at right. It includes the Watergate complex and the Kennedy Center, but also some residential streets.

Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.

– Where can people go to find out who you are and what you stand for?

– What is your daytime job? What skills have you acquired at that job that will help you be an effective ANC?

I am a founding partner at a DC law firm. We represent businesses and nonprofits with DC-specific issues. We are a one-stop shop for DC business legal needs from commercial real estate leases, to litigation, to permits and lobbying. The skills I would bring to ANC would be a familiarity with DC agencies and government personnel. Most importantly, I understand and regularly help my clients navigate the DC bureaucracy. Sometimes that means negotiating and sometimes it means litigating. I think I am effective in building coalitions and moving efficiently and strategically to accomplish goals. I hope to be able to put those skills to work as an ANC Commissioner.

– For many people who live in your district, routine shopping means walking many blocks heavy-laden with shopping bags. What can the ANC can do to attract more retail in your district?

My campaign is focused on solving the problem of the dearth of commercial outlets that serve the entire neighborhood. We have a lot of seniors in my Single Member District (SMD) and closing the Safeway at Watergate, along with several other stores has created an unnecessary burden for too many. While the ANC does not have control over the commercial space at the Watergate, I would move the ANC to engage with the Board at Watergate East and its management partner to encourage economic development at the Watergate. Specifically, there needs to be a grocery store with fresh produce and national brands. There also need to be stores that compliment anchor tenants CVS and (hopefully) a new grocery store. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are good for the neighborhood, but the market can definitely bear an alternative to these two stores. That alternative should be in my SMD so that it is convenient and affordable for seniors. Further, the route to get there must be safe and accessible for people in wheelchairs and people with strollers.

– Parking is always a hassle all over DC. How can the city reconcile the desire of residents for no-cost housing on the streets in front of their homes with the fact that it is impossible to provide free on-street parking for everybody who wants it?

I think the market is demanding reconciliation in one of two ways – either pay for a parking space behind home or in a garage, or rely on a bicycle or public transportation. I see the use of shared cars and rides increasing. Metro has been extended to Reston, and I see a reduced reliance on the automobile. I think the importance/reliance on cars is changing as the Millennials come of age. They seem to be less enamored with cars than my generation (Gen X) and those before me. To your question, in my SMD it’s impossible to have street parking for everyone who wants it.

– Some of the properties in your district, and many properties in the ANC, are part of one historic district of another. What's your position on the role of Historic Preservation in Foggy Bottom? Is it too much of a hassle for homeowners to modify their own homes?

Historic Preservation is important. I do not think it is too much of a hassle to have ANC involvement when an owner proposes to modify her/his home. Quiet enjoyment of one’s property is the most important thing to Foggy Bottom residents. I think the prospect of McMansions is disturbing to many who understand and respect the neighborhood and its history. That is why there is this review of proposed modifications.

– DC won't be a family-friendly city until the school system gets fixed. There seems to have been some progress on elementary schools, but now people are moving to the suburbs because the middle schools just don't measure up. What's the best way to attack the problem of improving middle schools?

Me and my wife have been very involved with the neighborhood school, Francis Stevens. We are one of those families that is committed to staying in town and helping to improve the public schools for all students. The middle schools will improve as groups of committed families keep their kids in the system through elementary through middle school. In the intervening years before those large groups of students come through, DCPS has got to work to standardize best practices among the middle schools. I believe the Chancellor is doing a good job as she attempts to mold and improve what was a broken public school system. But, the schools will not improve unless families commit to keeping their children in the system while actively working to improve the system. From our experience, active engagement of the parents with the administration and teachers is essential. If elected to the ANC, one of the things I want to do is engage our neighborhood on increasing involvement with the neighborhood school. In our SMD we have a wealth of diplomats, entrepreneurs, and every kind of professional. I would like to see the opportunities for increased volunteerism at Francis Stevens. We could have a mentor program that is the envy of the city. Further, the Foggy Bottom community should engage with the school since it will be remodeled soon. There may be the opportunity to create neighborhood meeting space and/or amenities at Francis Stevens. If elected I can facilitate that neighbor-school communication.

– Is there any questions that I should have asked you but didn't?


End of interview.

The election will take place on Tuesday, November 4. Early voting will start Saturday, October 25 Monday, October 20. Thanks to all candidates for responding to my questions.


  1. The title of this article says "1A" and not "2A".

  2. I am very excited that Thomas (or Tom as many of us know him) is running to a spot on the neighborhood commission. His efforts were essential in preserving Francis-Stevens, which has become a gem of a school for which our neighborhood can be very proud! If elected, I believe he will be the first commissioner on the 8-person ANC2A in a long time to have a child in public school in a very long time.