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Votes

RA Candidates Face Off at Forum

RA election will fill three seats on Board of Directors.

Candidates running for the Reston Association’s Board of Directors answered questions from Reston residents last week on Wednesday night at a call-in program broadcast from Reston Comcast’s television studios.

The candidates are seeking three seats on the board — one to represent the Lake Anne/Tall Oaks district, one to represent the North Point district and one to represent Reston in its entirety.

The following are some of the highlights from Wednesday’s forum, broken up by the different districts.

AT-LARGE

Rick Beyer

Reston Association needs to strategically prioritize its wants and needs, Beyer said, especially as the organization weighs increasing the maximum assessment fee and changing the formula used to compute increases in dues. The community and its facilities are aging, and RA must be prepared to maintain infrastructure and continue to provide services, he said.

“Restonians have become accustomed to good service at a reasonable price,” he said.

Preserving Reston’s pathways, common areas, lakes and recreational areas should be RA’s priority, he said, but as a board member, he would ensure the organization investigates the needs of the community to a greater degree, he said.

Beyer, president and CEO of a telecom firm, pointed to his business and non-profit work as qualifications to represent Reston as an at-large board member. Locally, he has served on the Coalition to Save Lake Newport and Friends of Reston, RA’s fundraising arm.

Mike Corrigan

Corrigan, the current Lake Anne/Tall Oaks board member, said his experience on the board makes him the logical choice to represent Reston as an at-large board member. Specifically, he cited his work in helping get Reston’s Nature Center off the ground and in amending RA’s governing documents for the first time in 20 years. Last week, Corrigan proposed increasing the assessment cap and changing the index used to compute increases, but exempted residents over the age of 65.

Investigating Reston’s governance is of primary concern for Corrigan, he said. Alternative governing structures include becoming: a special tax district, a town, or a city. Incorporating as an official town or city, Corrigan said, would give Reston greater political legitimacy, especially with the Dulles Rail Project on the horizon.

“Metro is barrelling down the track at us at this point,” he said. “We need more political clout to protect ourselves.”

By voting for Corrigan, he said, RA members will be supporting the concept of reevaluating how Reston is governed.

“A vote for the other candidates is a vote for the status quo,” he said.

Jay Monroe

A technical analyst for an IT firm, Monroe listed his experience as a volunteer at the Reston Festival, on RA’s Election committee and as chairman of the Programs Advisory Committee to convey his commitment to Reston.

“If you vote for me, you’re voting for a volunteer — someone who spends more than 400 hours volunteering a year,” he said.

Updating the governing documents is important, he said, but he does not support increasing the assessment cap by $66, as has been proposed.

Monroe, who has lived in Reston for three years, developed the calendar on RA’s website.

Mina Thomas

A Moroccan citizen, Thomas said she wants to incorporate other voices and ethnicities into Reston’s governance. Many of RA’s published materials, she said, are not accessible to non-English speakers. If elected, she would work to better include Latinos and other groups, she said.

“I want the chance to make some changes in my community and give back as well,” she said.

Reston’s physical appearance is Thomas’ main concern, she said, vowing to improve the overall look of the community.

LAKE ANNE/TALL OAKS

Vera Hannigan

A former at-large director for the RA board, Hannigan focused much of her time Wednesday to denounce the proposed changes to RA’s governing documents and the lack of public input into the process.

Hannigan said she is particularly opposed to an amendment that would lower the threshold needed for public support of new capital projects, which she said would lead to unchecked spending and future debt.

“These changes will remove members’ rights,” she said.

Changing the index used to calculate increases in annual dues is another wrongheaded change being proposed in the governing documents review, she said, because the proposed index is tied to labor costs, not consumer costs.

“The ECI would benefit someone who has employees and that’s RA,” she said. “But most of us don’t have employees.”

Robin Smyers

Smyers, a member of RA’s Design Review Board, said her experience on the DRB has shown her that RA needs to spearhead an effort to maintain, renovate and rejuvenate facilities across Reston.

Restoring Reston’s watershed is one of Smyers’ major concerns, as are maintaining property values and the quality of life generally. Overall, Smyers said she wants to balance fiscal responsibility with providing the services the community has come to expect.

If elected, Smyers would help implement more public meetings for Reston residents to inform the public about opportunities in the community, she said.

Unlike her opponent, Smyers said she is fully in favor of amending the governing documents to give RA the flexibility to continue providing services at adequate levels.

“I am a proponent for the entire document review referendum,” she said.

NORTH POINT

Doug Bushée

Bushée, the only candidate seeking reelection to the same district, said Wednesday that the last three years he has served on the RA board have given him the skills needed for another term. Bushée cited the RA board’s record for the last three years, mentioning accomplishments like the successful passage of the Southgate Recreational Center referendum, the Nature House, and consistent balanced budgets.

If Bushée is elected for a second term as the North Point RA director, he said he will focus on maintaining Reston’s pathways and ensuring they are kept safe. Also, Bushée said he will continue working to keep assessments low and will oppose changing the index used to compute increases to an index tied to labor costs.

In a broad sense, however, Bushée said steps must be taken to ensure RA maintains the ability to provide services well into the future.

“We all agree that we should put Reston first,” he said. “Not just for today, but in the long term as well.”

Eugene Cannon

Cannon, who is relatively new to Reston, said he would protect Reston’s environment, maintain aging facilities and would effectively represent residents as the Dulles Rail Project moves forward. A supporter of bringing Metro to Reston, Cannon said he wants RA to ensure that transportation alternatives are provided while traffic is interrupted by the project.

Also, Cannon said he would be a voice of fiscal responsibility on the RA board, giving the organization’s expenditures a closer look.

“Special attention must be paid to every dollar spent,” he said.

Reston must also become more welcoming to new residents, Cannon said, with RA informing newcomers about the community’s different opportunities.