The Reston Association election is upon us. Voting is underway and continues through April 2.
Over the past few election cycles, Restonians have increasingly been asked to vote for slates of candidates. This should disturb you. In last week’s Connection you were urged to vote for a partisan slate of candidates (“Ganesan, Johnson, Bowman and Petrine for RA”). Voters must decide whether they want to be led by a Board of Directors that is unanimous in thought, or if they prefer individuals who will independently evaluate each issue on its own specific merits to the community.
Much has been discussed in the media about the concept of Groupthink associated with the concept of candidate slates. Actually that’s a misuse of the term. Groupthink is a subliminal, subconscious cohesion of thought. If anything, candidate slates are prone to agree on everything; thus the strategy of banding together. Let’s not forget the mission of a director is to represent all the members of the community!
Hypothetically, let’s say Reston had a partisan political party. They organize a slate of candidates that agree to agree, consent to unanimity of thought, and align themselves with one or a few benefactors. Partisanship creates an unnecessary culture of politics.
Theoretically there is danger in one slate of candidates agreeing to agree and being promoted by one or a few benefactors. Can you imagine the controlled board voting if Northwestern Mutual (the owner of Reston National golf course) and Wheelock Inc. (the owner of Hidden Creek golf course) combined financial resources and literally bought a majority of seats on the RA Board?
Restonians will have to decide if a divisive political culture will entice future volunteers to participate in a homeowners association.
A number of other independent candidates and I are on record of trying to increase voting. Our mission is to bring more people into the tent, not isolate the ones that are already there. For Reston to continue to grow in a balanced, well-managed community we need more community input. We need more neighborhood leaders to routinely communicate with the Reston Association staff and vice versa. We all should work towards doubling voter turnout.
Many people would agree that a partisan political culture is inappropriate for a volunteer homeowners association board. A new independent board should open an investigation, analyze the facts, and create policy to prevent the building of partisan slates of candidates in the future. I believe, at a minimum, Restonians would want full transparency in the form of detailed campaign financial disclosures and in-kind donations of organizational and personnel support.
As a voter you must decide if you want a constant year-in and year-out majority of the Board of Directors to be controlled by one ideological concept, aligned in thought and action, led by a few partisans behind the scenes.
Or do you want a board composed of independent and diverse volunteers whose primary agenda is to focus on one issue at a time based on the information presented to them at that time from the members they serve? Will Reston succumb to local partisan politics and the changes that could inflict on the decision-making process? Your choice, your vote matters! Stop what you are doing — and vote now.