Two weeks ago the Alliance for a Better Community endorsed four candidates in the race for the Reston Community Center’s Board of Governors.
In last weekend’s RCC Preference Poll, all four lost, including two incumbents, Ruth Overton and Fred Greenwald, who received the least amount of votes of the eight candidates.
Mary Buff, Kevin B. Deasy, George C. Lawton and Peter von zur Muehlen won the four available slots. They made up an anti-tax slate, endorsed by the Reston Homeowners Coalition and the Coalition of Concerned Tax District Communities. Determined by the number of votes made by the tax district’s residents and businesses, Buff, Deasy and Lawton won the three-year seats and von zur Muehlen won the one-year seat, which was vacated last year and hadn’t been filled.
For Deasy, Lawton and von zur Muehlen, who all live outside Reston but within the community center’s tax district, their campaigns proved to resonate with voters who feel RCC activities have not been adequately communicated to everyone in the tax district.
DURING A CANDIDATE forum two weeks ago, residents who live in the tax district but don’t live in Reston complained that they were not properly notified about RCC programming.
"[The slate] hit on a number of points, especially on doing a better job of communicating with residents on the fringe of the tax district and not part of the core of the Reston master plan," said Bill Bouie, who sits on the Board of Governors and is the elections chair.
Buff, a 27-year Reston resident who had been appointed to the board last year and elected this past weekend, said she was surprised by the results. "It definitely wasn’t planned for because ABC usually has a choke hold on [Reston Association] and RCC elections," said Buff, who is also president of the Republican Club of Greater Reston. "I really think [Robert E.] Simon caused their defeat when he suggested at the candidates forum that the tax rate be increased."
Deasy, who campaigned on tax relief, boasted 30 years of business management and engineering experience. He also drummed up fear that if Reston were to become a town, RCC would be taken over. "I oppose this raid on RCC funding," he said in his candidate’s statement.
Lawton, who has 30 years experience in the federal government conducting cost-benefit analysis, promised to make RCC more efficient.
Von zur Muehlen, an economist who worked for 33 years with the Federal Reserve Board, ran for the board to represent people in the tax district, but outside of Reston proper. "Several thousand households outside of Reston, but within the small tax district, either do not know about the RCC’s availability to them or are alienated from participating for various historic reasons," he said in his candidate’s statement.
Karen Cleveland, who ran for one of the seats but lost, lamented that the election has become overly political. "I think [all the candidates] are good people and would work hard for the community center," said Cleveland, adding that she plans to stay involved. "If there’s any way I can help them, I will."
THE NINE-MEMBER Board of Governors is responsible for establishing the community center’s policies, gathering public input on programming and services, and providing fiscal oversight of the center’s budget.
Every year in October, Reston residents and businesses vote in a preference poll, endorsing three candidates. This past year, two members resigned and only one of the positions was filled, so this year’s poll included four open seats.
On Oct. 15, the community center held a Community Polling Day, when ballots were available at the five village centers in Reston and at the Harris Teeter at the Spectrum.
This year’s turnout was 1,050. Turnout for the poll the past two years has been about 1,300 people.