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Reston Association Election: Meet Charles Dorfeuille

by RestonNow.com — March 2, 2015 at 11:00 am 8 Comments

Charles Dorfeuille/Credit: David Madison for RAVoting in the 2015 Reston Association Board of Directors elections begins Monday at 5 p.m. We will be running candidate profiles Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format so each candidate has an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

Today’s profiles are of North Point Candidates. This is a Q-and-A with Charles Dorfeuille, a 13-year Reston resident.

Reston Now: What makes you want to serve — or continue to serve — on the RA Board?

CD: Through my involvement in [RA’s] Community Engagement Advisory Committee, I have seen many inefficiencies in RA policy that I have not seen the board properly work on. I see many ways to improve RA that I have laid out in my 20 things I pledge to have the board work on if i am elected. I want to see a Reston where more of us are taking full advantage of what RA has to offer!

RN: What is the biggest issue facing RA right now and do you have an idea to improve it?

CD: For the short term, I think that redevelopment and rezoning is our biggest challenge that if not properly faced, will have negative effects to our community for decades to come. For the longer term though I see our dues as a very serious issue we must at least try to take on.

RN: How can RA members better understand what the board does and how can they be better involved in improving our community?

CD: I agree that community involvement is a very important issue that Ra needs to work on. In my 20 points plan I have attempted to mitigate this issue through many potential initiatives and programs

  • Grow a more vibrant and active public outdoor art program: Increase the number of temporary resident-made art installations especially during the summer months, with a strong emphasis on youth and senior involvement.
  • Establish a stronger presence in the Reston community TV channel: Propose an “All about RA” show be added to the station. Also propose having future candidates forums and district meetings aired live, or replayed in its entirety on the channel. Propose airing the RA videos published on YouTube on a monthly basis as well.
  • Establish a stronger working relationship with local schools: By establishing a relationship with all schools in the area, we would be able to establish a more visible presence in the lives of young people.
  • Establishing a Youth centered committee: There are many young people in the community that want to be active, but don’t know where to begin. By establishing a youth committee that would consist mainly of middle- and/or high school-age members, we would have a permanent pulse on what young people want to see in an association that they are also members.
  • Encourage a stronger referendum culture within the association: By incorporating non-binding referendums into the associations process, the board will be better able to gauge what members hope to see before making a decision like raising dues or changing the master plan.
  • Make District meetings a permanent, yearly event: The idea that “the association is coming to you,” I believe, is where we should be aiming as an effective modern community association. I also see this as a great way for members to get to know their board members and what they do.

RN: Some of the criticism of RA recently is wasteful spending, lack of transparency and rising assessments. What can be done to improve or at least improve perceptions of all of these things?

CD: I believe that this is one of RA’s largest shortcomings. In addition to establishing yearly district meetings and enhancing RA’s referendum culture, I have many other ideas to improve the associations position. We do need to do more to encourage staff leadership to find efficiencies within the association to make sure that no dues are being used inefficiently.

We also need to put stricter controls on how much dues [assessments] increase by adding an additional cap. If elected, I would lead a new discussion within the board to cap the amount the association can raise it’s yearly dues. Whether it be a percentage cap or a price cap, it would serve as a guarantee to members that dues would no longer be able to be raised at an accelerated pace. It would also provide a solid formula for members that are financially limited, so that they will always know the price range needed to pay for the next year.

Lastly, I would emphasize the need for RA dues to stay even across all members. When you formally become an RA candidate, you receive an orientation that informs you that your jobs will be to look after the best interests of the association. Therefore it would be easy to conclude that if lower-income members are given lower dues than higher income members, they will be less desired by the association. (I am assuming that home prices are linked to income ranges in this argument). If this were to happen it would have the potential of permanently hurting one of Restons most endearing characteristics, the fact that anyone from anywhere in the financial spectrum can live, work, and play here.

RN: 2015 and beyond is an important time for Reston’s growth as several large residential developments are in the works, and most of the residents will be RA members. What can the board do in the next few years to adequately prepare to serve thousands more people?

CD: I think that this fact reinforces the need that we must protect our open spaces, as they will be used by much more people in the future. in regards to transportation, we should begin to look seriously at smart growth and enhancing current communal transport. We should also look at new forms of transportation that RA can take on independent of the county as well, that would serve association members exclusively.

As much as we need to champion preserving Restons open spaces, we must also look into setting aside space for community playgrounds for our younger members. We should also look into building parks/picnicking areas that are more family and activity friendly.

We should alway make sure to remind the board of supervisors as often as we can of who we are and what we represent. We should be careful not to change ourselves into what the county would like us to be, and stay true to our founding documents.

Photo: Charles Dorfeuille/Credit: David Madison for RA

  • John Farrell

    RA has lost over $10 million in recreational proffer dollars that either weren’t collected or went to agencies other RA. How would you fix that?

    Why is so much of RA business done in executive session?

    Do you support the referendum to buy the visitors center?

    That referendum will cost $30k to administer. Is government by referendum a good use of limited RA assessment dollars?

    • 1.I think RA needs to begin to invest in itself by beginning to provide itself the services it currently contracts out. By having this happen I believe RA will save money in the long term budget, and be freer to respond to situations quicker.

      2.As I am not yet on the board, you and I both have the same information on that! The reason said is to deal with staff issues, consult with legal counsel, discuss contracts, or other legal issues.

      3.I personally saw the purchase of the Tetra Property as an easy way to ensure no unwanted development were to take place at that location, but the price tag does make me take pause. There are alternative ways though RA can try to lower the risk of such a thing happening, but it would require action from the county.

      The main alternative I see is to pressure the county to change the zoning designation from convenience to common area, that way RA would be able to continue renting for the parking without high risk of new development in the area. By pushing the county to change the designation, the building proper would also be limited in what it could be used for, dramatically raising the possibility of it being purchased by someone that ends up renting it out for events anyway. If that were to happen, I would see nothing wrong with RA occasionally renting out the space if it would need it for an event or class.

      That being said, none of that would be possible if the county decides not to change the zoning of the area. Without it we would run the risk of a building twice the size of the current one, with a deck piercing 50 feet into a relatively small lake that would essentially be facing people’s back yards.

      4. I fully believe in our referendum culture that we have in Reston. I would personally like to see more non-binding referendums on important or controversial issues for the future. We would be able to keep the costs down by just having them be online as well, so no 30k price tag.

      Thank you for the great questions! If you have any more feel free to ask them here, and I will do my best to keep up on them. You can also email me your questions at [email protected], or start a conversation on the #CharlesForReston Facebook group!

  • L

    Just out of curiosity, do you happen to know how old Mr. Dorfeuille is? He looks quite young.

  • You can find my final candidate statements, my letter to cluster members, and the 20 things I plan to champion if elected in the files section of https://www.facebook.com/groups/639726229489258/

  • Rational Reston

    Mr. Dorfeuille seems like a breath of fresh air to the stuffy RA board. Sadly I’m not in the North Point area, but hopefully he can be the start of a wave of responsible and balanced direction from RA.

  • LaureenMT

    You seem to suggest that you would be doing low-income RA members a favor by charging them the same assessment as wealthy members, since all members would then be equally “desired” by RA. Have you asked low-income residents whether they want to pay more for this privilege? Do you think there might be other ways wealthy residents may try to convince RA that they have more value to the community? Lower assessments for low-income households might increase their ability to become part of the Reston community.

    • Thanks for the question Laureen!

      I have only reached out and spoken to members that live in low income housing in North Point. From what I’ve heard from them they want to be treated just like every other member, as many said it leads to people saying they are not paying their ‘fair share’.

      The problem I see is that eventually you will have a situation where more wealthy members that pay more in assessments will have a stronger voice in the budgeting process in RA. Also, as the community grows we should be careful not to make some members more valuable than others, as it may lead to RA prioritizing more luxury redevelopment in lower income regions of reston just to have more money to work with in the budget.

      I agree with you that the lower the assessments are good for people to enter the community, but I would also argue that is the case for high-income members as well. Many people that gain wealth don’t automatically lose a sense of its value (though that is not always the case (: ) so low dues are good for everyone!

      Thank you for the great question though, I hope I was able to explain it well enough. If not, I’d love to elaborate some more!

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