Daniel Ridge is the Newest ANC6B Hill East Commissioner
Computer Scientist will finish the term of former Commissioner Brian Flahaven
by Larry Janezich
Daniel Ridge was sworn in as the new ANC6B09 Commissioner by Councilmember Charles Allen last Friday, February 26. He was the only candidate to file a petition (which must be signed by 25 residents) with the DC Board of Elections and, thus, effectively became elected by default. He succeeds Brian Flahaven as the commissioner for the single member district 6B09, which lies east of 15th Street, SE, in the Southwest corner of ANC6B. Flahaven resigned his seat in January because he and his wife are expecting their second child this spring.
Capitol Hill Corner asked Ridge how the election process played out.
Ridge: “My oath says I was duly elected. [The Board of Elections] ‘deems the position to be filled’ (or something like that) in the case that only one qualified candidate turns in signed petitions. My wife maintained for years that I was totally unelectable. If I was, in fact, simply appointed then my wife is not yet wrong. Unelected Bureaucrat at your service.”
Capitol Hill Corner: “Why did you seek a seat on the ANC?”
Ridge: “I decided to seek a seat on the ANC when a neighbor, a savvier politician than me, saw me shoveling the alley during snowzilla. She told me that she heard a rumor that I was going to run for the empty seat. I went down the block trying out the same ruse on other good candidates and found no takers. I decided then only to complete the petitions. I decided to turn the petitions in only when I saw that no other resident had even collected a set.”
Capitol Hill Corner: “What are some of the issues or concerns in your SMD or ANC6B in general that motivated you to volunteer a major commitment of time and energy, especially when you have a family and a job both of which make significant demands on those personal resources?”
Ridge: “Support for aging is a major theme. One of the major causes of poverty in my SMD is a lifetime of hard work for a fixed pension. Neglected and abandoned property has a root in our lack of support for aging. Neglect turns around and becomes a further barrier to my neighbors living in their homes for as long as they would like.
My first constituent issue is to help a fabulous retired federal employee who has lived in her house for 71 years. She uses a wheelchair for mobility and uses a ramp to leave her property in the rear. Before she can leave her yard, somebody has to unscrew boards at the ground that keep the rats out.
We have perhaps a dozen cars in the street in my SMD owned by residents unable to drive them. These cars can lead to thousands of dollars in fines for the owner – and worse. In some cases, these fines for aging can lead my neighbors into a DC ‘clean hands’ quagmire that can keep them from getting services they need. I have neighbors who can’t even donate their car because they can’t find the title.
Another constituent meeting today took me to a house that is in the middle of a flip (or expedited home ownership lifecycle if we want to be judgement-neutral). I see that homes that are maintained can be worthwhile to hold to or turn over without doubling or tripling in size. Whatever neighbors think of construction or expansion, neglect is a precursor. Lack of support for aging feeds that neglect.
I’m 41. I’m aging in place. Every trip on the Hill with a children’s stroller is a preview of reduced mobility in our neighborhood and homes. Pay attention to those experiences.”
Asked for some personal background information, Ridge supplied the following:
“I was raised in Frederick, Maryland. I wanted to live in DC and work for NASA since a boyhood (perhaps 12) visit to the Georgetown townhouse of a family friend who had done just that.
I moved to Southwest DC in 1998 for a job at NASA HQ and I lived just across the highway from that building. I moved to Potomac Avenue in 2003 when my wife was finishing graduate school in Berkeley, California and ready to move back to the area.
I have a wife, a seven year old daughter and a five year old son. I work as a computer scientist for a non-profit research institute.”