On January 2, Quentin Colón Roosevelt became the youngest elected official in the District of Columbia when he was sworn in as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Ward 3. The 18-year-old attends online high school and plans to begin college in the fall.
His ANC seat serves Wesley Heights, Palisades, Foxhall, Kent, Berkley, and Spring Valley, where Colón Roosevelt grew up. He says he wants to increase representation of younger voices in government, and promote the priorities of other young people like himself who care about public schools, the small businesses they frequent, and the safety of their streets.
Colón Roosevelt went to Horace Mann Elementary and then several public and public charter schools, including Basis and Inspired Teaching, before switching to online school, which he says afforded him the extra time to volunteer with political campaigns and even run his own campaign. He ran for the ANC position after volunteering with Erin Palmer’s campaign for DC Council Chair and Trisha Duncan’s campaign for DC Council. Working on those campaigns, Colón Roosevelt says, revealed to him how many issues in Ward 3 were related to schools. Though he ran unopposed, Colón Roosevelt still made campaign signs and knocked on doors to get to know more of his neighbors.
Now, Colón Roosevelt’s number-one priority is a new high school opening at 4530 MacArthur Boulevard, Northwest, in August. The new DCPS high school aims to help ease overcrowding at Jackson Reed High School. The new school is currently referred to as MacArthur High School but its final name has yet to be determined. “I’m very glad we have this opportunity,” Colón Roosevelt says, “but I also understand that it’s in one of the most inaccessible locations in DC.” Colón Roosevelt wants to improve accessibility to the school through bike access on the Palisades Trolley and Capital Crescent trails, as well as increased bus service on MacArthur Boulevard.
Increased bus service would help not just students—Colón Roosevelt wants better bus service for his whole community. “It means that we can welcome new residents and neighbors, and welcome people who are visiting our small businesses, without having a massive increase in traffic,” he says.
Besides being politically active, Colón Roosevelt is a longtime Boy Scout, and for his Eagle Scout project he organized a beautification of Congressional Cemetery which involved 30 kids cleaning up a storage area.
The high schooler is not the first in his family to serve the public. The Roosevelt in his name comes from Theodore Roosevelt, his great-great-great grandfather. Though his family’s long history in government and politics partly influenced his decision to run for ANC, he says that his father, who is originally from Puerto Rico and works for the Department of Defense, was a role model: “He’s definitely instilled a great deal of respect for public service and commitment to serving.”
Colón Roosevelt acknowledges that much of the ANC role means responding to issues brought to the commission, but he’d also like to eventually see more housing in Ward 3 neighborhoods, perhaps via an increase in density and mixed-use developments. He points out that Spring Valley still had racially restrictive covenants in place until the 1970s. “My dad wouldn’t have been able to own a home here 50 years ago, and I want to make sure that more families can come here and become part of our amazing community,” he says.
Though he doesn’t know yet where he’ll end up for college, Colón Roosevelt hopes to land near DC or at least stay on the East Coast. Most ANC duties involve answering emails and responding to phone calls, and ANC meetings are currently still held on Zoom. After this two-year term, Colón Roosevelt plans to run for a second. Mostly, the new ANC member is excited to get to work: “I really love where I live, and I’m really excited to serve everyone where I live.”