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Votes

A Split Board for RCC

At the first meeting since the election of four new members, the RCC board shows signs of division.

With the influx of four new board members on the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors, changes were bound to happen.

But, if the newly-comprised board’s first meeting on Monday is any indication, those changes might come at the expense of a board minority.

With some agreement, incumbent Joe Lombardo replaced Beverly Cosham as chairperson of the board and Mary Buff was elected secretary. The board elected Kevin Deasy as vice-chair and George Lawton as treasurer, by five-to-four votes, which turned out to be a pattern.

Five to four was also the vote for electing the board committees, such as the Preference Poll and Community Relations committees.

Lombardo, Deasy, Buff, Lawton and Peter von zur Muehlen voted as one block.

Cosham, Roger Cowan, Bill Bouie and Terry Smith, all incumbents, voted as the other block.

All but Lombardo and Buff are newcomers to the board, although Buff, who won her first election last month, was appointed to the board last year when a seat was vacated. Deasy, Lawton and von zur Muehlen live outside of Reston, but within the boundaries of the tax district that funds the community center.

Lombardo said it was unfortunate for the slate to be dubbed outsiders by some in the community.

"These fine folks are residents of the tax district just like the rest of us."

He added that the 58 percent of the vote generated by the new board members marked a "landslide victory."

A FEW PROBLEMS were encountered during the election, according to comments made at Monday’s meeting.

Poll workers at some places asked for signatures of the voters, while others only asked for initials. Some poll workers did not match the voters' signatures to ones on their identification cards.

David Dantzler, who worked the polls, reported that he overheard one person bragging that he had voted at multiple polling sites.

"He intended to vote at all the precincts and he was quite proud of it," said Dantzler, who lives in Vienna within the tax district.

The turnout for the election, a total of 1,050 votes, was lower than last year.

As the board’s new chair, Lombardo hopes to makes significant changes in RCC operations. Lombardo hopes the board will lower taxes for residents of the tax district. He would like to figure out a way to take less than the current 5.2 cents per $100 on assessment from the residents. He said other community centers operate on as little as 2 cents per $100 on assessments.

Lombardo's other goal is to reach out to the community. With today's technology, he said, "It is unacceptable that we are not able to reach all residences and businesses."

SOME OF THE MEASURES that are planned include sending a letter to the community as a guide explaining the financing of the RCC and the board's goals; holding the annual retreat inside the tax district; and reaching out to experts in various fields who live in the district but do not serve on the board.

Outgoing board members also had a chance to say good-bye. After 18 years on the board, Ruth Overton had contributed to many of the RCC’s successes.

"I invite all of you [on the board] to enjoy yourselves," she said. "Take advantage of what the community center has to offer."

She added she is looking forward to continuing to contribute to the RCC as a member of the board's Community Relations committee and as a resident.