In what is believed to be a first for the Reston Association, a newly-elected board member has been named president of the organization's Board of Directors.
Rick Beyer (at large) was unanimously elected president by his colleagues on the board last week on Wednesday night at a time when the organization is undergoing the first comprehensive review of its governing documents in 20 years — a move that RA officials insist is critical to ensure Reston's quality of life is maintained.
While many of the amendments to the documents merely update the language, some of the proposed changes are proving to be more controversial. These include: increasing the maximum annual dues from $430 to 496, changing the index used to compute increases in assessments, and creating a new category of members that would allow residents along the industrial corridor to join RA.
Several members of the RA board said Beyer, despite being new, is the best choice to keep the organization on course as it tackles these issues in the coming months.
Because he has the bipartisan support of the community, his leadership will prove useful in garnering the high number of votes needed to pass the proposed changes in the November referendum, said RA Director Joe Leighton (South Lakes).
Beyer, who was unopposed in his bid for the presidency, said his main priority is to gather feedback from the public on the governing documents review and then to tweak the amendments as necessary.
"The community will have to ask themselves if they want to keep things — quality of life, as it is," he said. "And if they're willing to grant RA more flexibility to pay for it."
The most important thing, he said, is for the community to approve the referendum. That means anything overtly controversial in the amendments must be carefully weighed on whether it would kill the chances of receiving the required votes by two-thirds of a quorum — 40 percent of RA's total members.
"With regards to the referendum, the answer needs to be yes," Beyer said. "Clearly, it's a matter of what we can get passed."
To help garner the support of a united community, Beyer said he plans to hold more public hearings on the proposed amendments and is urging RA board members to meet with the different organizations in their districts, such as cluster associations and civic groups.
"We're at a really important time in Reston's history," he said. "Reston's future needs to be as great as its past."
FOLLOWING Beyer's election to the presidency, RA Director Doug Bushée (North Point) was elected vice president of the board.
Bushée, who unsuccessfully challenged Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) last fall, said he is confident the new makeup of the board will prove beneficial in the governing documents' review process and beyond.
The new board consists of seven experienced incumbents and two new directors. Beyer is one, though he has extensive experience with Friends of Reston, RA's fundraising arm, and Robin Smyers (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks) is the other, though she has experience from sitting on RA's Design Review Board.
"We're fortunate to have nine board members with that institutional knowledge and who know what needs to happen," Bushée said.
Though the vote was done by secret ballot, it was clear that Bushée almost wasn't elected vice president. RA Director Vicki Wingert (at large) was also nominated and the two candidates appeared to have an equal number of supporters on the board. But thanks to a last minute phone call by Balvinder Sandhu, the apartment owner's designate on the board, the tie was broken in Bushée's favor.
The other officers elected Wednesday were RA Director Jennifer Blackwell (at large), who was reelected to her position as the board's secretary, and John Higgins, who was reappointed as the board's treasurer.
WHILE THE GOVERNING documents review is certainly the RA board's most pressing concern, Beyer said he is also looking beyond that issue to the future.
Specifically, he is concerned about Reston's aging facilities and common areas, which will soon be in need of renovation and revitalization.
Also, Beyer said he is interested in forming subcommittees to investigate issues brought up during the campaign, including whether or not Reston should incorporate as a town or city.
"There are so many great ideas in the community," he said.