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Votes

RA Dropouts

<bt>Two candidates dropped out of the running last week for an at-large seat on the Reston Association (RA) Board of Directors. The candidates, Chad Davis and Jennifer Blackwell, withdrew their names two weeks before March 8, when voting ballots will be sent to Reston residents.

Davis, the first candidate to drop out, announced his decision on Feb. 20. Two days later, Blackwell also left the race. Now that Blackwell and Davis are out of the running, Vicky Wingert and Glenn Downing are left to compete for the one open seat.

Both Davis and Blackwell gave similar reasons for leaving the race. Davis said that as he started his campaign he got to know Downing and realized that both men "were fighting for the same issues." Blackwell said that after she read each candidate's platform statements, she "couldn't help but notice the similarities between [Wingert] and [herself]."

Blackwell is endorsing Wingert in the upcoming election, while Davis is endorsing Downing. Wingert, former executive vice president of RA, has said she would like the homeowners association to return to its core responsibilities such as protecting open spaces, providing recreational services and administering covenants. Downing, the current president of the Board of Directors, has encouraged the study of a possible Reston college and has revived discussion on the incorporation of Reston as a town or city.

"Glenn has a lot of good ideas," said Wingert. "But the question is whether or not RA should pay attention to those ideas or should go back to its core functions."

Downing has said RA should be able to tend to its core responsibilities while simultaneously examining some broader initiatives. Recent studies of ideas like the Reston college or the incorporation of Reston have been conducted with unpaid volunteer committees.

DAVIS CONFERRED with some of his campaign supporters before making the decision to withdraw. "We felt working to get our goals accomplished was more important than individual status," he said.

Blackwell made her decision independently and laughed when she heard the news that Davis had pulled out. "I had made the decision several days before," she said. "I guess he [Davis] beat me to it."

After she made her decision, Blackwell asked Wingert to meet for coffee and the two discussed why Blackwell left the race.

"I never saw this as running against anyone," Blackwell said. "I thought of it as running for something. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would be taking votes away from a candidate [Wingert] who I thought was most qualified for the job."

Both Davis and Blackwell are much younger and have spent less time working with Reston organizations than either Wingert or Downing. Davis and Blackwell both plan on staying involved in the community, though. Davis recently founded a chapter of the Reston Jaycees, and Blackwell hopes to get involved with some local volunteer committees or task forces.

Even though he encouraged Davis to run for the board, Downing was glad Davis decided to pull out. "We tend to attract the same type of philisophically-minded people," Downing said. "He attracts a group that is younger, I attract an older group."

Downing said that Blackwell probably would have drawn votes away from Wingert in the same way that Davis might have drawn votes away from Downing. "This makes the voting decision cleaner," Downing said.

Wingert didn't necessarily agree with Downing's assessment of the re-configured race. "I don't know if Chad would have pulled from Glenn, or if Jen would have pulled from me, or vice versa," she said. "But there probably will be more focus on our different perspectives with just two candidates instead of four."