Five RCC Board Members Resign

Five RCC Board Members Resign

The members were upset over actions by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Five members of the Reston Community Center Board of Governors announced they were stepping down from their elected seats Monday, saying they were upset over the actions of Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill).

The RCC board members who stepped down were Chairman Joe Lombardo, Vice Chair Kevin Deasy, Treasurer George Lawton, Secretary Mary Buff and Peter von Muehlen.

"This action is motivated by a series of events and actions that, in our view, demonstrate conclusively that the taxpayers and Governing Board of the Reston Community Center (RCC) do not in fact exercise local control over the affairs of Small District 5," the resigning board members wrote.

Deasy, Lawton and von Muehlen were part of the board's conservative, anti-tax majority that voted to reshape RCC's special tax district by removing neighborhoods not located within Reston. The three members, all residents of the cut-out neighborhoods, no longer live within the tax district. Consequently, each of their terms were set to expire on June 30.

To replace the three outgoing members, Hudgins and the Board of Supervisors on Monday appointed three new Reston residents to the board: Karen Cleveland, Kathy Vivona and Ruth Overton. The three new members were all runners-up in last fall's RCC preference poll.

Tradition dictates that vacant seats are filled by the candidates who garnered the second-highest votes in the previous election. But tradition also states that vacant seats typically remain open if the vacancies occur within six months of the next preference poll.

Hudgins said she filled the seats because leaving the nine-member RCC board with three vacancies would have made it difficult for the board to conduct its business.

"Three vacancies is not considered a simple shortage," Hudgins said. "It's a pretty significant shortage."

By appointing the second-place candidates from last October's preference poll, Lombardo said Hudgins was stacking the RCC board with her political allies and undermining the board's conservative majority that had been selected by voters.

"She's denying the people of Reston the right to choose their representatives," Lombardo said.

Lombardo said Hudgins had "intruded" on the board's local control of the special tax district and oversight of the Reston Community Center.

"As far as we're concerned, this is a charade," he said.

This is not the first time that Lombardo and the other resigning RCC board members felt snubbed. Earlier this year, Hudgins and the Board of Supervisors reduced the community center's tax rate by one-half penny to 4.7 cents per $100. Hudgins did not first consult with the RCC board's majority members and "ignored" their efforts to cut the tax rate even lower, Lombardo said.

"The Board of Supervisors, and Cathy Hudgins in particular, have undermined our local control over governance issues," he said.

Now that an additional two vacancies will be left on the board, Hudgins may fill the seats in the coming weeks.

Hudgins said she is eager for the RCC board to put an end to the drama and get back to the business of overseeing the Reston Community Center and its programming.

"I hope we can put all this behind us," she said.

Terry Smith, a longtime RCC board member, said he is excited about the three new members of the board.

"We have some very good new members coming onto the board," he said.

At the RCC board's next meeting, Smith said, the board's partisan wrangling of recent months will be a thing of the past. "You'll see everything put behind us at the next meeting."

Smith declined to comment on whether the new RCC board would undo any of the governance changes enacted by the board's former conservative majority, including a resolution on June 5 to convert each of the nine board seats from at-large to district seats.