Brookland Advisory Neighborhood Commission
Robert I. Artisst Sr. (incumbent), a former University of the District of Columbia professor and self-employed design consultant
William B. Boston (challenger), a special-education psychologist with the D.C. public schools
•Late-night make-out sessions in historic Fort Bunker Hill Park
•Nate’s Comfort Zone, the neighborhood watering hole
•The cheap vinyl siding going up on renovated historic homes
Artisst attempted to make the leap to a school-board seat in 1998 but encountered controversy when several newspapers questioned the authenticity of his Ph.D. from George Washington University. The story raised the eyebrows of administrators at Howard University, where Artisst received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Howard’s investigation eventually exonerated him but cost him the election, and a school custodian ascended to the seat.
Artisst says he has won his constituents’ favor by providing the benches at the bottom of Fort Bunker Hill Park, as well as new streetlights. “I have people calling me at 11 p.m. asking for things,” Artisst says. “The next morning, I call the city department heads. If they don’t do anything, I go to the mayor’s office. If he doesn’t do anything, I go to Capitol Hill and make [Mayor Anthony A. Williams] look bad.” Boston offers a different account, indicating that Artisst may be spending too much time on the Hill: “Some of the neighbors asked me to run, because Bob never answers his phone and never returns messages.”
Artisst, a proud third-generation Washingtonian, says he has “nothing good or bad to say about his opponent.” But he has accused Boston of carpetbagging, insinuating that the 37-year-old native Oklahoman moves where “he thinks he has the best chance to win city council.” Boston retorts that he has lived in the Brookland area for 10 years. He also pledges to answer his phone.
Hundreds of calendars photographically illustrating Artisst’s community service ensure that the dapper commissioner is a sure thing with the neighborhood’s elderly women. Boston has locked up the votes of those opposed to the erratic parking of patrons at Nate’s.