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.
Richard Chew currently serves as the South Lakes Director and is seeking re-election. He also previously served RA as an At-Large Director (2008-11).
Reston Now: What makes you want to serve — or continue to serve — on the RA Board?
RC: So the standard answer by candidates is usually something like: “I’ve been in Reston a long time and I want to give back to the community.”
Well, I am a longtime Reston resident and I have been active in the community almost all of the time I have lived here. I’ve been involved in RA operations and issues for over 15 years. In 2008, I was elected to the Reston Association Board of Directors as an At-Large Director. After a break in 2011 to take care of an ailing wife, I returned to the Board in 2012 as the representative of the South Lakes District. Much has been accomplished by the association over these years and I have contributed to most of the top accomplishments. But there is more to be done.
I seek re-election because my commitment to openness, truthfulness, and accountability has enabled me to deal effectively with all members of RA. I seek re-election because I am strong advocate of good governance within the association. I seek re-election because I enjoy serving on the Board and advocating for meeting the needs of our members.
That is why I want to continue on the board.
RN: What is the biggest issue facing RA right now and do you have an idea to improve it?
RC: Future development in Reston is getting increasingly greater focus at the Reston Association. Maintaining the Reston way of life in the face of the inevitable changes to come. If managed appropriately, that change can benefit RA and its members.
I want to maintain RA’s excellent programs, services and facilities while carefully anticipating and planning for changes that will surely occur in the coming years. I am committed to working collaboratively with the RA staff, volunteers, and fellow Directors to serve the Association’s short- and long-term needs. I am also committed to maintaining RA’s financial health and using assessment dollars wisely to provide a strong quality of life for residents of all ages. In looking to the future, however, we cannot afford to minimize the current needs of the association and the needs of its members.
RN: How can RA members better understand what the board does and how can they be better involved in improving our community?
RC This an excellent question with no simple answer. The overwhelming majority of our members do not know what the association really does, much less what the Board of Directors does.
The Association is constantly exploring new ways to communicate with its members. The Reston magazine, the RA News newsletter, and outreach through an expanding email list are some examples. Under Cate Fulkerson’s leadership as CEO, the association is taking its messages out into the community through attendance at cluster meetings, holding district meetings, and other similar activities.
We need to continue seeking ways to inform our diverse and multi-generational membership and create opportunities for them to get involved. Thankfully, this is a significant topic in the association’s current strategic planning program.
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?
RC: The Reston Association is certainly not “wasteful.” In spite of some perceptions, it’s really a lean operation — some may even say too lean. But I think it is fair for some to say the association has not always made the most informed choices when deciding how to spend its limited financial resources.
As a returning member of the board, I will challenge the board to establish a framework for allocating limited resources in the face of competing demands. Doing so will help directors make better informed decisions and increase transparency and raise trust. I will continue to advocate for responsible budgets that support the core functions of the association.
When all is said and done, the board must make a compelling case if it opts to raise assessments. Here again, this is a significant topic in the association’s current strategic planning program.
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?
RC: I think we should be careful about saying “most of the [new] residents will be RA members.” Certainly that is true with respect to the new Harrison Apartments, the proposed redevelopment of the Fairway Apartments and Crescent Apartments, and to other possible projects on properties subject to the RA deed.
But there are thousands of new residential units that will arrive in the corridor in the future that will not automatically become RA members. Reston Association is working hard with the county and developers to bring those units into the RA fold in a manner that benefits everyone involved. There is cautious optimism that RA will be successful.
If re-elected to the Board, I will continue to advocate that we carefully assess these opportunities and the potential impact on our resources, financial and otherwise, from this growth and that we plan wisely to meet the challenges that growth will bring.
Photo: Richard Chew/Credit: David Madison for RA