Get to Know Your ANC Candidates: ANC 3E-03

ANC Election 2014

Tenleytown, D.C. continues this week our series about the upcoming Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) elections, featuring profiles of candidates running in each of the five single member districts (SMD) that comprise ANC 3E. Thus far we’ve highlighted the first and second districts representing the AU Park, Friendship Heights, and Tenleytown neighborhoods. This week we take a look at ANC 3E-03, which incorporates portions of all three neighborhoods within its boundaries.

The profiles of the candidates are based upon answers to questionnaires sent to the candidates, which were designed to provide voters with more information about the candidates’ backgrounds, involvement in our community, and vision for it moving forward. We encourage residents to share their feedback and questions about the candidates and neighborhood in the comments section. Don’t know in which SMD you reside? Find out here.

ANC 3E-03

ANC3E-03The district is bounded by Western Avenue to the northwest, Wisconsin Avenue to the northeast, Belt Road to the east, and stair steps down from Fessenden Street to Brandywine Street along its southern boundary. For a more complete outline of the boundaries, click the map image for a larger version.

ANC 3E-03 is a diverse district featuring a mixture of residential and commercial zones. Most of the Wisconsin Avenue corridor north of the Tenleytown Metro sits within the district, featuring the developing area around the Tenley View project, the forthcoming development at the current Steak ‘n Egg, and the future home of the expanded Georgetown Day School campus. In addition, the district contains the well-established, high-end shopping area around Mazza Gallerie. Two major arteries – River Road and Wisconsin Avenue – cut through the district, which also includes quiet residential streets and Fort Bayard Park.

Jonathan Bender, the incumbent commissioner and current vice-chair of ANC 3E, is seeking reelection for a fourth term without opposition. The SMD is one of two in which a candidate is running unopposed.

Candidate for ANC 3E-03

Jonathan Bender
4411 Fessenden Street, NW

Before founding his own law firm where he currently specializes in Internet law, Jonathan Bender practiced law at Hogan and Hartson, LLP where he focused on litigation and regulatory advocacy, as well as public interest litigation. Earlier, he was a program associate with the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government. He assisted task forces that included governors, federal agency heads, and federal judges, and educated and advised members of Congress, Congressional staff, and foreign dignitaries on technology policy and law. He holds a law degree cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, an MPA in science and technology policy from Columbia University, and a BA with distinction in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

For nearly six years, Bender has served as a commissioner on ANC 3E, three of those years as chair and two as vice-chair of the commission. Before joining the ANC, Bender co-founded and led a community group that secured speed cameras to slow speeding commuter vehicles and rush hour turn restrictions to prevent commuters from cutting through his neighborhood. He served on the board of directors of the Friends of Fort Bayard Park where he succeeded in obtaining a new playground for the park.

In addition to his ANC service, he currently serves as the director of Neighborhood Watch for police service area (PSA) 202, an area that roughly coincides with the boundaries of ANC 3E.

Jonathan Bender and his wife Elizabeth have lived in Washington, D.C. since 1991 and moved to the AU Park neighborhood in September 1995, residing in the area for nearly 19 years. They have a 15-year-old daughter who attends Wilson High School and an 8-year-old son who attends Janney Elementary.

Tenleytown, D.C.: Why are you running for office?

Jonathan Bender: I’m running for reelection to continue to make our neighborhood more safe, livable, and fun. We’ve made good progress toward these goals over the past six years. To that end, and taking just a few examples, I’ve worked with:

  • the police to reduce crime and increase pedestrian safety;
  • the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to start comprehensive analyses of livability needs in neighborhoods, rather than primarily block-by-block petitions for speed bumps;
  • neighbors and American University to negotiate an agreement permitting AU to build a law school in Tenleytown that will support local businesses and otherwise enliven the neighborhood, while preventing undue burden to neighbors. Lawsuits from neighbors scuttled AU’s previous attempts to site a law school in Tenleytown; this time, in light of the aforementioned agreement, the neighbors foreswore their right to sue;
  • developers to negotiate an agreement to redevelop the long-derelict former Babe’s Billiard site with a modern mixed-use building featuring two floors of retail and an appealing streetscape, while preventing residents of the new building from parking on neighborhood streets; and
  • D.C. government and educators at Janney Elementary School to help see Janney through two expansions.

Tenleytown, D.C.: What changes would you like to see during the next ANC 3E term?

Jonathan Bender: Perhaps the biggest challenge in the next term in my district will be working with Georgetown Day School, neighbors, and the city to shape GDS’ plans for the Safeway and Marten’s lots into something good for the community. GDS secretly negotiated with Safeway and Martens to acquire their Tenleytown properties so the school can bring its middle and elementary schools here. The agreement GDS made with Safeway prohibits another supermarket from locating on the Safeway lot, and sharply limits the size of a market that can locate on the Maarten’s lot. We need to try to get another market in the space allotted, and to ensure that if GDS is permitted to more than double its enrollment, as it seeks to do, it does not unduly the burden the neighborhood. Moreover, we need to press GDS to develop a project that enhances the streetscape and street life along the stretch of Wisconsin Avenue it would front, provides community amenities on-site such as shared playgrounds and fields, and fits comfortably within the neighborhood. GDS has spoken of the possibility of mixed-use development on the Marten’s site, and has met with me and neighbors to discuss the project. We have a long way to go, however, and I hope to be able to continue to work with GDS and the neighborhood on this important endeavor.

Tenleytown, D.C.: What is your vision for this community over the next 5 years?

Jonathan Bender: In the next few years, our neighborhood will and should continue to grow. Our business districts should offer more and better places to go and congregate. We should add living options to our predominantly single-family housing stock while protecting and strengthening the great residential community that exists now. We should ensure that our public schools stay strong. And we should make our streets safer still.

I’ve worked hard to pursue these goals over the last six years, and I hope to have the opportunity to keep doing so as an ANC representative in the term to come.