Voting in the 2015 Reston Association Board of Directors elections is now open. 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 South Lakes District candidates.
Andy Sigle is a telecommunications executive who previously served RA as an At-Large Director (2011-14) and Vice President of the board. He is involved in Reston in a variety of volunteer capacities, including on the Southgate Community Center Advisory Board, Cornerstones and many South Lakes High School activities.
Reston Now: What makes you want to serve — or continue to serve — on the RA Board?
AS: I believe that community is very important and is built most effectively when members get involved. I enjoyed serving on the RA Board during my 2011-2014 term, and am confident that I helped communication across the Board and beyond.
I spearheaded several successful initiatives including getting lights on the Brown’s Chapel Little League field and restructuring RA’s budgeting processes to better plan for our capital expenditures and maintenance. While on the board, I was not shy about asking questions when something did not sit right with me, and pushing for change when appropriate.
The bottom line is that I want to serve on the RA Board so I can help my community by putting my knowledge-and drive-to use for the Association. I am confident that I can add value and make the RA Board more effective.
RN: What is the biggest issue facing RA right now and do you have an idea to improve it?
AS: The biggest issue facing RA is the myriad of potential developments being planned in and around our community and the inevitable change they will bring. [Reston founder] Bob Simon laid out several principals 50 years ago when he founded Reston: environmental stewardship, diverse housing opportunities, recreational amenities, accessibility (walk and bike rideability), planning and design excellence, and commitment to the arts.
New development is coming, and RA needs to have a voice at the table so that Mr. Simon’s principles that have served our community so well for the past 50+ years can continue to do so.
RA must create and solidify key relationships and make sure that we get involved early in development planning cycles, when RA has a chance to influence plans. This includes staying up-to-date on potential development, and working hard to lobby Fairfax County decision makers on the association’s behalf.
Positive relationships with Fairfax County, Reston Town Center Association and large developers serve all parties’ interests. The best way to preserve the principles we value is for RA to communicate and engage.
We also need to plan for our changing community. The board needs to ensure that more development doesn’t bring with it a degradation of RA’s services and facilities, or our open space.
RN: How can RA members better understand what the board does and how can they be better involved in improving our community?
AS: RA needed to — and has — come a long way in the recent years in terms of transparency. More and more items are available on the RA website for perusal or inspection by all members, including such items as Board meeting minutes and board member information packets. This needs to continue so that all members have convenient access to available information.
RA needs to get out into the community more, instead of waiting for members to come to the RA Headquarters building. Getting board members and staff out in front of members at cluster meetings, condo meetings, sporting events at RA facilities, etc. is a key component to increasing communication and understanding of issues.
Continuing traditional communication methods while increasing use of technology and social media is important to ensure that communication is flowing between RA and its members. For instance, if a Tweet or Facebook post can remind a member of an important topic that they can further research on the RA website or elsewhere, it makes sense to do so.
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?
AS: The main item here is to continue to work on disseminating relevant information so that members have easy access to the data that will help us get informed about these topics. Ensuring items such as board meeting minutes, board meeting information packets, and the RA budget and financial statements are easily accessible to all members is key to informed opinions and decision-making.
It is also important that each Board member feel empowered to ask questions — even awkward questions. These sometimes awkward questions can often save RA money. For example, when I was a member of the RA Fiscal committee, the subject of the independent auditor came up, and I asked when the last time the audit contract went out for bid. I wanted to ensure that RA was paying market rate for the service. It turned out that it had been more than five years, and when I pushed the issue and the conversation was had, the audit firm came down thousands of dollars to sync back to the market rate for such services. Reasonable, well-intentioned questions help make effective oversight.
Finally, it is essential that RA stick to its core principles. We need to keep RA focused on these areas. There are other organizations that we must work with in a complementary fashion to most effectively address the issues facing our community, e.g. Fairfax County Government, Reston Community Center, the YMCA, Cornerstones, etc.
RA should enhance the appropriate relationships so that we effectively and unquestioningly lead the areas that make sense for us to lead, and support those areas where we are confident in other organizations’ leadership.
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?
AS: RA needs to work with the developers and the County to ensure that we get our share of any proffer money that becomes available for recreational purposes. We, as members, own most of the open space in Reston — our common areas — and monies needed to enhance playing fields and open spaces to serve additional residents should initially come from developers, not our dues.
New residential units should become RA members. In RA covenanted areas, this will happen as a matter of course. In the corridor along the toll road, this is a matter of negotiation. These new residents will undoubtedly be using RA pathways, pools, tennis courts, etc. so we need to ensure that they are dues-paying members of the Association; such that their goals align with our goals, and we behave as one community.
The association needs to ensure that our programs, facilities, and services represent a great value proposition so that these new developments want to join us.
To adequately serve more residents, the additional assessment revenue is essential to help the association fund expanded programs and facilities, as well as the increased maintenance for existing facilities.
Photo of Andy Sigle/Credit: David Madison for RA