Reston Association Elections: Time for Real Change?

Reston Association Elections: Time for Real Change?

Independent Progressive

Shortly after this column appears in your Reston Connection, you will be getting your very own ballots in the mail for the Reston Association Board of Directors election. Voting by mail or online will begin March 6 and end April 3 for four of the nine seats on the Board. These are volunteer jobs. Nonetheless, the work the directors do has real impact on living in Reston from the appearance of our community; the condition of our lakes, pools, sports fields, pathways; standards for our homes design and maintenance standards; and, the assessments we pay to make it all work. Directors set policy and a budget currently over $17 million. They oversee a large staff, managed at the top by a CEO who makes over $200,000 per year and five senior staff making over $100,000 each.

The current board has a mixed record. RA continues to do some things very well. Summer camps for kids are well done. Facilities are generally well maintained — e.g., pools, tennis courts, and pathways. We love walking Reston pathways after it snows. We are amazed at how quickly RA crews clear them under tough conditions. Athletic fields are generally OK, but could be better.

But, there are also significant problems. The Tetra purchase and renovation, and the Lake Anne land swap come to mind as board decisions that were questionable, hardly serving the best interests of RA members. Those decisions had things in common — lack of transparency and lack of early community participation. The board majority made, and continues to make excessive use of executive sessions, effectively hiding part of what should be public record. Under law, executive sessions are to be used exclusively for discussion of personnel matters and contract negotiations. Also, basic ethics procedures and practices are flawed, sometimes ignored. Elections are vehicles for changing organizational direction. This RA election provides such an opportunity. Seats for three of six persons serving as the majority voting block are being vacated. And quality replacements are available.

Here are the three I recommend: Eric Carr for the At-Large position. Eric led the community pressure to get the board to accept independent review of the Tetra debacle. A longtime Reston resident, Eric is an extraordinary community-oriented person who has already demonstrated his commitment to transparency and accountability. Victoria White for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood seat. Victoria is an accomplished contracts manager and a rising business executive. The board desperately needs her skills. Newcomer John Mooney for North Point director. John comes from a planning background in Arlington County government. Reston faces growing development pressures. John will be a strong asset in going toe-to-toe with Fairfax County for sensible growth. If Carr, White and Mooney are elected, you will see positive change at RA.

The fourth opening is an Apartment Owners Rep, voted upon by only a handful of apartment complex owners. It traditionally goes to a candidate backed by the Hunter Mill District supervisor. This year is no exception. The supervisor’s choice candidate is David Bobzien, longtime Fairfax County Attorney who retired in the aftermath of the controversial handling of the police killing of an unarmed civilian. Two other candidates dropped out when the supervisor’s choice became clear. The question is what is the supervisor’s agenda for Mr. Bobzien at RA?