In the Fall of 2006, one election cycle ahead of Barack Obama's historic and triumphant run for President of The United States, the incomparable Rayceen Pendarvis also successfully launched a political campaign and made local history by proudly becoming one of the first openly gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners within the city of Washington, DC.
On Tuesday, November 7, 2006, the results from the General Election were tallied, reveling that Pendarvis — a candidate running under the birth name Raymond Chandler — had been elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) for Single Member District 5B03, located within the city's northeast quadrant.
The occasion was just one of several milestones achieved throughout the extraordinary career Pendarvis had enjoyed for over two decades.
The non-partisan ANC system is specifically designed to be a voice for residents of the nation's capital. As such, ANCs are a direct conduit between the government and local citizens. They represent more than 100 neighborhoods in eight wards and generally advise and consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting the city's residents.
Each Commissioner represents about 2,000 residents in their Single Member Districts. Although elected for a two-year term, ANCs receive no salary. Despite this, they do receive funds for the general purpose of improving their neighborhoods and hiring appropriate staff.
The John A. Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue is home to Washington's City Hall. Constructed in 1908, the building contains grand interior spaces including the original ANC Commissioners' offices and the present City Council Chamber.
Originally created in 1974 through a District referendum in the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners consider a wide range of policies and programs affecting their respective neighborhoods.
According to the DC Office of Planning official website, Ward 5 is extremely diverse in character and history, ranging from quiet residential neighborhoods and local shopping streets, to new high-rise development and industrial uses.
The obligations of ANCs consist of several key responsibilities. The official website states that Commissioners typically focus on issues dealing with “traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District’s annual budget.”
The law provides that comments from ANCs must be given “great weight” when final decisions are made by the government. This gives ANCs a significant amount of negotiating power. Accordingly, various District government agencies, the Executive Branch, and the D.C. Council give strong consideration to the opinions of ANCs.
Throughout the 2007-2008 term, Raymond Chandler (aka Rayceen Pendarvis) took full advantage of this power by repeatedly advocating for citizens of the ANC 5B03 jurisdiction, which encompassed the neighborhood of Brentwood and the surrounding areas.
The middle class neighborhood of Brentwood, located in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, DC, is named after the historic Brentwood Mansion. The illustrious 19th century residence was constructed in 1817, and sat at the intersection of Florida Avenue and 6th Street NE. Built by the city's first mayor, Robert Brent, the estate was considered by many to be the center of social life within Washington, DC (then known as Washington City).
The Washington Metro, the public transit system of Washington, DC, serves the Brentwood area via the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Station. As one of Pierre L’Enfant’s original streets, Rhode Island Avenue continues to be a major commuter thoroughfare, linking the heart of downtown Washington with the suburbs of Prince George’s County Maryland. In 2012, the DC Council officially designated Rhode Island Avenue a “Great Street.”
In recent years, the Brentwood neighborhood has undergone a major renaissance. Due to the plans of major developers, the area has emerged as a great destination for retail, commerce and more. The revitalization of the area incorporates 21st Century design principles with the objective of creating a socially and economically diverse community. The Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metro Station sits at the epicenter of this trendy upgrade.
As usual, zoning disputes (see images below) became one of the hot button issues of Chandler's tenure.
Also notable were the concerns of Hispanic day laborers, immigration status, and the rights of unemployed workers.
These issues received significant press, repeatedly putting Chandler's name in the media spotlight.
Although no longer officially involved in the political arena today, Chandler (using the professional stage name Rayceen Pendarvis) continues to be a community leader, equality advocate, and a successful creative entrepreneur. Throughout the past several decades, Pendarvis has also served as host for several panel discussions and community forums within the DMV area, and has traveled nationally as commissioned by several organizations.
Furthermore, since 2012, Pendarvis has served as
The Ask Rayceen Show host, which annually presents the very popular #AskRayceen Community Forum, in addition to a wide variety of other events. The show continues to draw local politicians, community leaders, and concerned citizens, who like Pendarvis, have a strong desire to play an active role in community affairs.
The future professional endeavors of Rayceen Pendarvis remain to be seen. Yet, one thing is certain, the horizon definitely looks bright! Without question, the remaining chapters of this extraordinary life and career are sure to be “consciously” decided by Pendarvis and know one else. Whatever the choice, one thing is for sure, it will certainly be for the public good of ALL!
Click below to further explore the multifaceted careers of Rayceen Pendarvis.