D.C. Council member Anita Bonds introduced a bill requiring advisory neighborhood commissioner candidates to provide proof they live in the single-member districts they want to represent. Bonds offered “The Advisory Neighborhood Commission Candidate Proof of Residence Amendment Act of 2017” to the council on June 27. The bill would bolster the requirement of single-member district residency with documents such as a driver’s license or some other recognized form of identification. Bonds, who served as the chairman of the 5C advisory neighborhood commission for four terms, said that the process must be straightened out.

Anita Bonds, a Democratic at-large D.C. Council member, introduced a bill requiring D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner candidates to provide proof of residency. (Courtesy Photo)

“This common-sense provision will strengthen faith and integrity in the community’s most immediate local government representatives,” Bonds, a Democratic at-large council member, said.

Bonds is the chairman of the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization that deals with ANC Commissioners. The commissioners are unpaid elected officials that represent 2,000 residents and deal with issues on the neighborhood level such as zoning, public safety, education, and economic development, and are elected in the November election to serve a two-year term.

District law states that commissioner candidates must be residents of the single-member district they wish to represent 60 days before they file their nominating petitions. In addition, if a commissioner moves from the single-member district they were elected to, that is considered a resignation by law and the office is declared vacant.

A commissioner candidate isn’t required to show documentation of residency but is allowed to go through the nominating petition process based on voter registration records and on an oath. Commissioner Paul Trantham, who represents single-member district 8B02, said that process needs to be changed and urged Bonds to author the bill.

“She offered that bill because of me,” Trantham told the {AFRO}. “I approached Bonds at the end of February and the beginning of March because I found, through my own research, that some commissioners don’t live in the single-member districts they claim to represent.”

Trantham said India Blocker, a Ward 8 commissioner representing 8B03, lived in Prince George’s County, Md., and Kenneth Simmons, a Ward 8 commissioner representing 8E04, has two addresses that weren’t good and one of those listed to a relative, who told Trantham the commissioner didn’t live there. Trantham presented the material to the District of Columbia Board of Elections but has gotten no action from them. The {AFRO} could not confirm Trantham’s claims before publication.

A board spokesperson told the {AFRO} that they have responded to one of Trantham’s complaints “because of the evidence presented” but hasn’t responded to others because “no evidence has been presented.”

Trantham said he wants the board to have the authority to investigate residency issues and make commissioners show more authentic documentation such as a driver’s license or some other government identification before they can be certified by the elections board to run in a single-member district.

While Bonds’ bill focuses on commissioners, Kathy Henderson, who represents single-member district 5D05 in Ward 5, told the {AFRO} that more should be added to it. “There should be uniform legislation proving that all elected officials should be able to verify they live in D.C.,” Henderson said. “She shouldn’t just pick on ANCs. There should be a bill that is fair, unbiased, and appropriate for all elected officials.” Henderson said she has heard that a former D.C. Council member lived in Prince George’s County while serving on the District’s legislative body, which is a violation of the law.

Bonds’ bill was co-introduced by D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At Large) and Trayon White (D-Ward 8), and was co-sponsored by Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) and Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7).