Luke Cieslewicz- Candidate for ANC-5C07 Commissioner

Bio

I am originally from Wisconsin, the son of a farmer turned factory worker and a teacher. Through hard work in school, I was fortunate to get accepted to study at The University of Notre Dame, which I was able to attend thanks to the need-based financial aid policy. After school, I moved to DC for work. I have lived in DC for 9 years and have been living in Ward 5 for 2 ½ of those. My wife and I decided to buy a house here because we loved the feel of the neighborhood, including the park and library. It’s also close to the school where my wife teaches, and close enough to the metro for me. I think there is a lot of great opportunity in this area of the city, and I want to help us achieve it while also protecting the interests of the people who live here now.

Why the ANC?

– What got you interested in the ANC? My parents raised me with a strong sense of civic duty: from taking me to local political debates, to volunteering in the community through my school and our church. I’ve always wanted to find ways to give back to the community here in DC and be more civically engaged. This seemed like a great opportunity to do both: affect change for my neighbors nearby, but also have an opportunity to perhaps help neighbors from all over the District through advisory statements to our councilmember.

\"\"

– What is the ANC mission with regard to Ward 5 that you support the
most? I think everyone here likes to look out for the others in the neighborhood, and as an ANC commissioner I would like to do that same thing at a larger level. I would try to do this through holding businesses and developers accountable for keeping the interests of all our neighbors in mind, regardless of socioeconomic status. Additionally, I would like to help improve public safety, especially in pedestrian traffic.

– What parts of that mission could it improve on? I think that there are two things I would try to do better as a commissioner: communicate to the neighborhood through various means about what is going on (and also use those means to gather more input from them), and use the influence we have as an ANC to try to positively impact change from new policies and development. We could help accomplish that through community agreements with businesses and developers, enforcing zoning regulations or allowing for dispensations, and using formal advisory statements to let Councilman McDuffie hear clearly what his constituents want.

Challenges in Ward 5

– What do you think are the top 1-2 challenges in Ward 5? I think the top 2 challenges for our Ward are displacement and lack of transit options/alternatives.

– How would you like the ANC to address each one? For mindful development, I would like to see the ANC come out strongly for requiring new residential developments to have higher percentages of affordable housing, and also advise the Council on ways to help longtime residents retain their homes and not get “priced out” as property values rise. It’s also looking at ways to provide goods and services that the community wants and needs.

For transit options, I would look at ways to improve transit access and pedestrian safety. As the area continues to build up, we will need to have more options for our neighbors to get around. Mass transit and the creation of safer pedestrian and biking spaces are two ways to do that. Besides more and broader bus lines, we could also improve our access to bike share by installing more docks other than just at Langdon Park.

– How supportive do you think Councilman McDuffie or Mayor Bowser will
be in meeting these challenges? I hope that both the Councilman and Mayor would see the benefit of programs and policies built to allow all the people of the district to succeed and thrive, but since it may not make business and developers happy, I expect that money may speak loudly to them. However, if we keep the pressure on from the community level, they will not be able to ignore us, and I plan to amplify the voices of the community the best I can.

Positive

– What do you think are the top 1-2 features in Ward 5

Some of things I like best about this area are the community feeling and natural beauty.

– What should the ANC do to keep that a positive aspect of Ward 5

I think the strong sense of community here can be maintained by preventing displacement through increased affordable housing and perhaps revisiting rent control policies. Also, we can increase the community feeling through more community events. Between the library and the park, we have some good public gathering spaces. And if we can get the Langdon Recreation Center revitalized, that would also prove a gathering place.

In terms of natural beauty, I think we can aid this by maintaining and making use of Langdon Park. There need to be more waste and recycling receptacles throughout the park and along the major streets, like 18th street. Also, we need to get the city to hold businesses, like the ones on Channing St, accountable for cleaning up industrial waste and find ways to use some of the former industrial areas. Finally, we need to support the Council’s effort to move towards clean energy. We can also work to increase transit with more bus lines, bike share, and, for those who need to drive, more incentive for green vehicles.

Seniors and Long Time Residents

– What should the ANC do to make sure seniors and long-term residents
can reap the rewards of the changes taking place in the Ward?

There are multiple ways we can help keep our seniors and long-term residents as part of our community. A few of those would be working with the council on ways to keep their property taxes down through expansion of homestead credits, making sure that there are businesses which will cater to their needs (and making sure those businesses are good neighbors), and encouraging community involvement to help care for them and their needs. Also, increased transit options will help seniors with mobility problems get around easier to continue to enjoy the city.

Closing Comments

I like to sum up my philosophy as “Making a safe community for all our neighbors.” In this, neighbors are those in my SMD as well as across the district. Safety implies everything from walking around without the fear of a speeding car hitting you, to community watch to make sure that everyone feels safe in their homes, to protection from government agents like ICE who threaten our neighbors and our status as a Sanctuary City. And community building means a community that works for all residents, with equality, respect, and opportunity.
In closing, I would like add that I am endorsed by the Metro DC chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.