Opinion: Independent Progressive: Reston Association Elections and Covid

Opinion: Independent Progressive: Reston Association Elections and Covid

Is it my imagination or is Covid 19 still playing an outsized role in my life, perhaps also in yours? We find ourselves preoccupied with progress getting appointments for vaccine jabs. We watch local restaurants close and administrators unable to get kids back into empty schools.

Covid is a drag everywhere, even in Reston Association’s Board of Directors Election, the subject of this column. Ballots for this year’s election were mailed to you, Monday, March 1 in fact. This election is an important one, but you’ll hardly know it. You won’t see candidates outside your supermarket handing out their literature and asking for your vote. They won’t be knocking on your door to ask for your vote. Why? Because they fear no one will like pressing the flesh due to…, here it comes…COVID 19. And, a Candidates Forum on ZOOM last Wednesday drew just twenty participants from Reston’s 23,000 households. Three Director seats are open on the nine-member RA Board—two At-Large (AL) and one for the South Lakes District. There are four candidates for the two AL seats: John Farrell, a land-use attorney, President of his cluster association and former President of Fairfax Girls Softball; Sarah Selvaraj-D’Souza, a small business owner, Founder of RESTON STRONG, and member of GMU School of Music Board; Timothy Dowling, attorney, former Judicial Officer at EPA and Justice Dept. Environmental advisor; and, Vincent Dory, a professional software developer and former fraternity president. If you can, watch the RA Candidates Forum on YouTube to get the full picture. For me, as a former RA Board VP having watched the Candidates Forum and read the available material on all of them, my favorites are John Farrell and Sarah Selvaraj D’Souza. Both are clearly marked for success as members, and likely leaders, of the Reston Association Board. What differentiated them from the others were: their Reston experience, understanding of how RA operates, and specific ideas for improvements in RA.

Farrell points to the millions in capital expenses confronting RA and recognizes that the most logical sources of revenue to pay for them as our population grows by 40,000 or so should come from development in the rail corridor and proffers going to the Fairfax County Park Authority for new development. Ms. Selvaraj D’Souza has shown the makings of a leader in her one year of Board service. Just last week, she successfully guided the Board to a course of action acknowledging to RA members recent breaches in RA’s financial management systems, revealing their extent and setting forth corrective actions to secure a shaky IT situation. She stepped up when others were reluctant to lead. Further, she is the advocate of a greater role for RA’s capable but underutilized Fiscal Advisory Committee to tighten the budget and financial management systems. One more star on the RA horizon is Jennifer Jushchuk, another action-oriented candidate. She is unopposed for the South Lakes Director’s post. Among other things, Ms. Jushchuk is a Certified Association Executive who has prepared herself for the Board by being a dedicated student of RA for the last two years, while serving as a Mom and company executive at the same time. For those of you in the South Lakes district of RA, please vote for her on your ballot to assure that she gets the required minimum of 10 percent of those eligible to vote in order to validate her election.

I said earlier this election is important. I’m not kidding. Management and financial controls in RA are shaky, in part due to an understaffed IT operation. RA’s finances are not up to the coming membership growth and aging infrastructure. Many believe current management is, in fact, looking in the wrong places for solutions as Mr. Farrell and others point out. All this would not happen if we had a strong Board’s policy direction and oversight. That is missing. Help change it with your vote.