Retiring Logan Circle ANC Chair Mike Benardo Reflects on Service
Upcoming nuptials on the horizon and a busy work schedule are prompting Mike Benardo, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for ANC 2F06 in the eastern edge of the city’s Logan Circle neighborhood, to hang up his hat.
’’I’m engaged and we’re looking for a place to buy,’’ says Benardo, chairman of his ANC. ’’I’d love to stay in this neighborhood. I love it. But I’m not sure we’ll be able to find something. And I need to dedicate more time to my personal life.’’
Serving since 2006, Benardo is one of more than 200 elected commissioners throughout the city, unpaid public servants. ANCs typically offer recommendations for policies and programs affecting their neighborhoods related to traffic, parking, street improvements, crime and zoning restrictions.
’’My experience has been very positive,’’ Benardo says. ’’The reason I got involved with the ANC to begin with was not so much that I have higher political aspirations. I don’t want to be mayor someday or anything like that. I just really cared about my neighborhood.’’
Benardo, who’s lived in the Logan Circle area since 1998, says he’s witnessed firsthand the explosion of development in his ANC, particularly the area around 14th and P Streets NW. And unlike some of his fellow commissioners in other ANCs, who he knows have struggled against anti-gay sentiment in gentrifying areas, Benardo says his identity as a gay man hasn’t hurt his career as a commissioner.
In fact, Benardo says, Logan Circle’s ANC 2F is often jokingly called the ’’GayNC’’ because the majority of its commissioners have been gay.
’’It doesn’t influence our decisions,’’ he says. ’’We’re all involved because we care about our neighborhood. Development happens whether you’re gay or straight.’’
Benardo says the biggest accomplishment during his time on the ANC has been the ’’arts overlay district,’’ which stretches from Thomas Circle up 14th Street NW, before hooking a right at U Street and ending around 9th Street.