Opinion: Independent Progressive: March – The Lion Is Here, RA Elections Too!

Opinion: Independent Progressive: March – The Lion Is Here, RA Elections Too!

March, the month that comes in “like a lion,” is upon us. But, to date the only roaring is in the political scene, not in our weather. By Super Tuesday, the roaring was coming from a presidential candidate who just a week earlier was quite lamb-like. Joe Biden opened March by chasing off five of his six opponents and driving the sixth, my favorite democratic socialist, to the edge of the precipice.

Meanwhile, in local politics, our annual Reston Association Board of Directors elections have gotten underway, stumbling out of the gate as usual. RA had barely announced the opening of the balloting than errors by RA and its usual contractor, Intelliscan, had scrambled addresses and codes for ballots of hundreds of would-be early voters. An RA spokesman assures us the situation has been corrected. As they did last year. Isn’t it time to competitively rebid that contract?

The Board slots up for election this year are: the Hunters Woods/Dogwood Director; two At-Large Directors, one a full 3-year term, the other a one-year replacement; and the Apartments Director class B post! Incumbent Caren Anton is running unopposed in Hunters Woods. Two candidates are running for each of the At-Large seats. We had a chance to see them go head-to-head last week at the RA Candidates Forum (available on You-Tube). The At-Large contests are the most mismatched I have ever seen. Reston newcomer Paul Berry is vying with Sarah Selvaraj, a 12-year Reston resident and small business owner for the one-year At-Large seat. Berry has lived here for less than a year. Not surprisingly, he has a lot to learn, both about his new community and the Association. He was unaware, for example, that Reston Town Center is not part of RA. Ms. Selvaraj has a much better understanding of the community. She follows the Association in action. She clearly understands RA’s relationship with Fairfax County on land-use issues, for example. For a one-year term, we need someone prepared to give us a full year of effective service. Ms. Selvaraj is ready.

For the three-year At-Large post, the experience and readiness gap is even greater. Bob Petrine is a 40-year resident of Reston and a student of the RA’s history and its operations. A retired financial professional, Mr. Petrine brings exactly the skill set RA desperately needs at present. His opponent, Kerrie Bouie, is a promising young newcomer returned recently to Reston where she grew up. In the forum, she was likeable and refreshingly honest about her inexperience with Reston governance and RA operations. She answered key questions with a frank admission that she knew little about the subject. I’d say she’s a future prospect.

There are two candidates for the Apartments Director-Mike Collins and Jennifer Sunshine Jushchuk. To be elected to this post, one must get a majority vote of 23 apartment complex owners in Reston. No one else. One major owner is Fairfax County whose vote is cast by Hunter Mill Supervisor Walter Alcorn. Tradition, or is it legend, has it that the Supervisor decides who is Apartments Director by making known his choice. Then, other owners usually follow suit in order to curry favor with the Supervisor who wields power in land-use planning and zoning matters. It remains to be seen if Mr. Alcorn will wield this power. His pick is Mr. Collins, a former RA Board member defeated in a race for another RA seat. Ms. Jushchuk, a bright, involved Reston resident, has reached out to all apartment owners to consider her for the seat. I’m guessing the owners will follow the lead of the new Supervisor, seeing their interests dovetailing with Mr. Alcorn’s. Update on the situation at Lake Anne where a forensic audit of prior Board of Directors’ activities and an investigation by the Commonwealth Attorney are underway. The audit is turning up evidence of numerous irregularities. A preliminary report is expected in a few weeks. No information is yet available on the investigation itself.