For the past few weeks, Robin Smyers has been on a whirlwind tour through Reston.
The Reston Association director has been meeting with clusters, residents and anyone else willing to listen about the proposed changes to the governing documents, which members continue this month. “What we’re doing right now is so important,” said Smyers, who has talked with two clusters in the past week. “I’m so encouraged by the positive response.”
But she’s not the only one with a busy schedule. A united nine-member RA board has been working overtime trying to get people to vote on the referendum.
RA mailed out ballots for the referendum Feb. 13. Members can vote by sending the ballot back by mail or by voting online. Ballots are due back March 31.
WHILE THE SAYING “every vote counts” reached cliché status long before this referendum, it has never been more true in Reston. To take effect, the referendum requires a daunting 40 percent voter turnout and two-thirds approval.
With 1,791 votes already in, as of Thursday, Feb. 23, the governing documents referendum is still shy of its 40 percent threshold by 5,037 votes. But members still have a month to vote.
Board members are generally optimistic that the referendum will pass if it reaches the 40 percent mark. “I think we’ll have more than the 67 percent of the people voting yes,” said Director Rick Beyer (at-large).
Several board members credited Blackwell, who has spent countless hours working on the documents and who led the outreach efforts, with leading RA towards a “yesable” set of governing documents. In the final push, Blackwell has also answered queries from hundreds of RA members.
IN LATE JANUARY, though, the board’s unity was challenged when the board voted on the documents’ final language. Director Barbara Aaron (Hunters Woods) voted against the documents after the rest of the board agreed to make a last minute change to the maximum assessment, also known as the cap. Aaron opposed the change because it placed greater financial constraints on future boards. But now she is helping get out the vote.
“There’s some things in the documents I have heartburn over,” said Aaron. “But you don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.” She said over the past few weeks many people have asked her about the documents. “Overwhelmingly, I say you must vote and vote yes,” said Aaron. “There are so many things in them that we must have to keep the association running.”
Doug Bushée, director of the North Point district, has a similar message. “A lot of the changes allow the Reston Association to manage in the 21st Century,” said Bushée. Most important, he noted, if changes aren’t made, the needs of the community will outpace the money that can be collected.
THE BOARD’S ALSO touted important endorsements to rally get-out-the-vote efforts. “I think it’s important that we’ve had leaders from [the Alliance for a Better Community] and [the Alliance of Reston Clusters and Homeowners] endorse these documents,” said Director Rick Beyer (at-large). “It speaks toward the reasonableness of the documents.”
For those still undecided or leaning toward voting no, Director Joe Leighton (South Lakes) offered a solution. “Before voting no, I hope you’ll call Jenn Blackwell,” said Director Joe Leighton (South Lakes).