Voting in the 2014 Reston Association Board of Directors election is now open. There are nine candidates running for five seats. A candidates forum will be held Saturday, March 15 at Reston Association headquarters at 10 a.m.
Reston Association members should have received an election guide and ballot in the mail last week.
Reston Now will have Q & As with each candidate running daily this week and next. In the spirit of fairness, each candidate was given the same questions.
Today’s Q & A is with Jeff Thomas, one of five candidates running for the three-year At-large term.
Q: How long have you lived in Reston?
A: I have lived in Reston for 43 years.
Q: What inspired you to run for the board?
A: I have always been committed to volunteerism and supporting my community — and encouraging others to do so through my many years of service supporting Reston’s youth sports programs, experience on the RA Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, and working with the Fairfax County Park Authority on improvements to local parks.
I have been very fortunate to work with a range of outstanding and committed Restonians. It was really through the encouragement of my fellow volunteers that I decided to run for the RA Board. As Reston prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, our community faces a time of dramatic change and uncertainty, I believe that my perspective as a 43-year Reston resident, combined with my work with Reston volunteer organizations, and 25 years of professional experience, that I have a thoughtful and reasonable voice to lend to the RA Board.
Q: What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?
Change is Here. — Managing the change proposed in the Reston Master Plan update is by far the biggest concern I have for our community. These changes will require a focused, professional, and creative RA Board. The board will need to promote a more unified voice representing Reston’s interests with both Fairfax County and the development community. This includes not only protecting Reston’s core values, but also finding opportunity and creative solutions to ensure that Reston remains a great place for all its residents, current and future.
Reston is 50 years old. While our attention should be focused on the changes coming to our community, we must also be thoughtful about properly maintaining and enhancing our existing and aging facilities. We will need to develop sound business strategies to ensure that we are able to maintain/adapt/enhance our existing facilities and programing to meet the needs of our diverse and changing community.
Engaging our Community. Ensuring that the RA board is taking action consistent with the desires and aspirations of its residents. While this can be a challenge in a community as large and diverse as Reston, we need to ensure that we have effective mechanisms to seek out and affirm the views of the community on important decisions facing the community. To the extent that RA makes decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information, it erodes faith the in the RA’s ability to effectively lead.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?
A: Preserve What Makes Reston – Reston
Ensure Reston’s values and vision remain the focus of Board deliberations and decisions
Align community investments and resources with the goals and aspirations of our members
Improve community outreach to support informed decision-making by the Board
Advocate for Member Interests During Times of Dramatic Change
Ensure Reston’s voice is heard and its engagements with partners and local representatives are effective in shaping changes to our community
Leverage evolving opportunities to benefit our members
Protect and defend Reston’s values, community resources, and unique history
Promote Responsible Stewardship of RA
Promote sound program and fiscal management to maximize member investments
Ensure community investments promote sustained and increasing property values across our community, consistent with our values
Q: How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?
A: Over my 43 years as a Reston resident, I have had a front row seat as Reston has developed and changed over the years. This experience alone provides a perspective that allows a certain long term view of the challenges facing Reston. It has also provided me with an opportunity to be on both sides of the RA experience — both as a resident/customer and volunteer serving the community. I know what it like to represent myself and local volunteer organizations before the RA Board, the Design Review Board, Covenants Committee, and to register for camps and pool passes. So, after 43 years, you could say I know Reston pretty well.
Additionally, my volunteer experiences over the years have provided me with opportunities to build collaborative relationships across organizations to achieve results. Through my involvement with Reston Little League, we were able to work with volunteers of Reston Little League, the Fairfax County Park Authority, and local residents to make capital improvements at Fred Crabtree Park. These improvements enhanced the baseball experience for both the kids and their families. The same is true for my experience serving on the RA Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Through the efforts of terrific volunteers on the committee, we were able to develop a comprehensive plan for upgrades Browns Chapel Park. These plans were approved by the RA Board and eventually approved by the Design Review Board. The key to this project’s ultimate success was it focus on building cooperative relationships between the youth sports community, working closely with the Design Review Board, and local residents.
As a result of these efforts, Browns Chapel Park is receiving the approved upgrades and enhancement, we ensured that the park would remain a vital baseball facility for our youth, and also preserved the park as open space for all Reston residents for a generation.
These and other experiences, as both a resident and volunteer, have taught me the importance of setting specific goals, building strong collations across people and organizations, the value and necessity of community input, the importance of being a good listener, and the necessity of being flexible and reasonable in finding solutions. These are some of the lessons I hope to bring to service on the RA board.
In addition to my practical experiences as a member of the Reston community, I also bring over 25 years of professional experience in the public sector, and a strong academic background:
25 years of professional experience in acquisition, policy development and budgeting/strategic planning
Masters Public Administration, George Washington University
BS Public Administration, George Mason University
Graduate, South Lakes HS (Class of 1981 – First Graduating Class from SLHS)
While my professional experience provides me with a strong background in managing in both large and small organizations, it also provides me with experience managing people, processes, and communication. I hope to share some of this experience supporting the overall RA mission and goals. I also hope lend this experience toward continuing the mission of the RA Board, and the further build on the professional approach to management of our community.
This means a board that seeks the broad input of the community before making important decisions, anticipates challenges and seeks out opportunities, and finally, a board that reasonable and thoughtful solutions. I believe my professional background and experience will help in fulfilling these overall RA Board mission goals.
But most importantly, I’m hoping to lend my experience toward promoting the overall responsible stewardship of RA. I believe it is important for RA members know that board decisions are based on sound and reliable fiscal and program information, so as to maximize member investments. These investments should promote sustained and increasing property values across our community, consistent with our values.