Colin Mills: Cast Your Vote for RCA’s Future

Colin Mills/File photoIt’s election season again! No, I’m not talking about the seemingly endless parade of Congressional and gubernatorial primaries. I’m talking about the RCA elections.

The RCA elections open on Saturday, and I’m once again encouraging you all to take a few minutes to cast your vote. You can help determine who will be standing up for Reston’s citizens on issues from the future of our libraries to the revisions to our Master Plan to ensuring that the Silver Line is built in a way that doesn’t overburden Toll Road users.

This is a particularly important year to cast your vote. As I’ve noted before, I’m stepping down as president, and longtime Board members Terry Maynard and Dick Rogers are retiring to focus on planning and transportation issues. RCA will have a new president and a number of new Board members (including the three new Board members we added in February). There’s new blood and the possibility of a new direction for RCA; casting your vote will give you a voice in shaping that new direction.

For the third year in a row, we’re holding our voting online to make it as easy as possible to cast your vote.  You can vote from the comfort of your home or office, or at the Starbucks, whenever it’s convenient for you: on your lunch hour, in the morning before work, or in the middle of the night.

We’ve made an additional change this year to make it easier for you to vote. For as long as I’ve been on the Board, the RCA has held its elections in July. This is because we used to hold the vote at the Reston Festival.  Now that the Festival is defunct and we’ve gone to online voting, we realize that July is a tough time for people to vote: a lot of folks are on vacation, and those that aren’t might not be paying close attention to community issues in the dead of summer. By moving the elections back to June, before school lets out and before vacations start, we’re hoping to see a jump in turnout.

As always, the voting process is simplicity itself: Just go to the RCA website, and there will be a link on the left side of the page labeled “Click here to VOTE”, When you click it, you’ll be taken to a page containing information about how to vote, as well as short bios of all the candidates. On that page, you’ll be able to click a link that takes you to the ballot. Verify your residency, vote for your preferred candidates, click “Done” and your vote is recorded!

As always, the elections are a team effort, and as always, I’m grateful to the Board members who have rolled up their sleeves and made it happen.

Our tech master, Gary Walker, is once again handling the nuts-and-bolts work needed to make the election happen.  He designed and tested the ballot, transferred all of the candidate information into web pages, and is in the process of getting the election information up on our website. Gary’s in a very busy time personally and professionally, but he’s coming through when we need him to put the IT side of the election together.

Our Election Committee (Gary, Tammi Petrine, John Hanley, Annmarie Swope, Joe Leighton, and George Kain) also deserve a lot of credit. They collected election information, recruited candidates, produced and distributed our call for candidates, and publicized the election. It’s a thankless job, but our Election Committee is once again proving up to the task.

Now, back to the call to action. By casting your vote, you’re expressing your support for RCA and its efforts. If you benefit from our work in some way, voting is a great way to encourage us to keep up the good work.

If you want our Reston 20/20 Committee to keep fighting to ensure a balanced and sustainable future for Reston, please cast your vote.  If you appreciate the work our Reston Accessibility Committee does to make Reston a friendlier and more accessible place for people with disabilities, please cast your vote.  If you believe that it’s important to have an independent citizen voice keeping Restonians informed and speaking up on key issues, please cast your vote.

In the next year, our community will once again consider a number of important issues that will shape our future course. The County is now looking at Phase 2 of our Master Plan revision, and we need to ensure that the changes allow for reimagining our village centers will protecting our existing neighborhoods and open space. The Silver Line will open soon (we think!), and we’ll soon be seeing the first wave of redevelopment proposals. We need to make sure that we balance the growth with protection of our roads, our environment, and our quality of life.

The future of Baron Cameron Park will be decided soon; will it include a new RCC rec center, a relocated dog park, more field capacity? RCA will be keeping Reston’s citizens informed and engaged on all those issues, as well as others that we can’t foresee yet.

Our new Board will have a powerful combination of dedicated returning members and new blood with fresh ideas to move RCA forward.  RCA will continue working together with other community organizations, taking on new challenges, and looking for ways to better serve the citizens of Reston.

To my mind, that kind of community leadership is priceless.  But right now, all it costs is a few minutes of your time to vote. Make sure to act fast: the polls open Saturday and close on June 22nd. Please go to our website, learn about the candidates, and cast your ballot.  And thanks for your support!

Colin Mills is president of the Reston Citizens Association. 

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