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Meet the RA Candidates: Eve Thompson

by Karen Goff March 4, 2016 at 11:30 am 26 Comments

Eve Thompson/Credit: RAReston Association had been running Q-and-As this week with the five candidates for the 2016 RA Board of Directors elections. Voting begins Monday. Today’s chat is with Eve Thompson, who currently serves as Lake Anne/Tall Oaks Director but is running for re-election to an At-Large seat. Editor’s note: Thompson’s business, Reston Real Estate, is an advertiser on Reston Now.

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

Eve Thompson: Great question — I would say that the main reason is the desire to serve and the feeling that it’s important. Contributing to the governance of the community is important work.

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

ET: I think our biggest challenge is to maintain and strengthen what makes Reston “Reston” in the midst of so much development. I think one of the keys to maintaining  the things that make Reston unique will be in the development of the Urban Guidelines for application within the “corridor” that runs from above Wiehle Ave and Sunrise Valley to Monroe. That is a major initiative to be accomplished in the next 12 – 18 months.

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

ET: It’s amazing that with untold volumes of information available to us that it is so hard to keep up with what’s happening. RA tries hard to make everything available in as many formats as possible. We have an outstanding website that has lots of information about the Board goals, programs, new development, etc. We have a weekly e-mail newsletter that covers a whole host of topics. And of course we have RestonNow, providing very current, topical information on the issues that are consuming RA’s time and attention.

What Members can do is to come and hear and speak, either in person or via email to the Board on the topics that concern them. Member input is invaluable.

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?

ET: I’ll take transparency first. The claim that the RA Board suffers from a lack of transparency is I believe, an enormous source of frustration for all of the current Board Members. It’s also a charge that’s very difficult to fight. The truth is that with very few exceptions everything that’s going to be discussed is discussed in open meetings. The use of Executive Session is limited to Personal and Contractual matters. It’s like being asked “So when did you stop beating your wife?” It’s a loaded question that presumes guilt — as a current Board Member I’m saying “Not guilty!”

I am, however, sensitive to perceptions of the community — but not sure how to address these perceptions. The information about Board actions and agendas is available beforehand in many formats, so I’m not sure what else we can do to ensure that members are informed. It may be that the answer is it’s not possible, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep on trying.

Wasteful Spending. For some members any additional spending equals waste. For me it’s the lack of accomplishment. In my three years we’ve accomplished some things — but not all the things that I felt were important.

For me, what’s important is look and feel. We pay a lot of money in membership assessments, so I do not want to see curbs filled with leaves, litter, broken tree limbs or anything else that speaks to the community being “unkempt.”  In the 2016-17 budget, we did pass specific spending to clean the curbs — and to charge back the county and state for some of these expenses. If we can accomplish that I’ll feel good — I know that it won’t be as meaningful to some as others but —  we have to pick our battles and this is one that matters to me.

RN: This 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? Will having more members stress RA services?

ET: Well, as membership grows so will income — which will help scale RA programs and everything else needed to serve more residents. Community partnerships with RCC, RTC and the developer community will become even more critical to ensuring that all residents have access to a rich spectrum of amenities and services.

The Board needs to cement relationships with those groups and advocate for our member needs. The Land Use Guidelines that we developed in 2013 were designed in part with this goal in mind.

See previous chats with Sherri Hebert (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks), April Tan (At-Large), John Bowman (At-Large) and Dannielle LaRosa (North Point).

Photo: Eve Thompson/Credit: RA

  • ShadoHood

    Shadowood! Represent!

  • Mike M

    I’ll bet RA paid for the headshots these incumbents are using to promote their candidacy. Is that right? They are clearly professional and involved makeup. I’ll bet they were pricey too.

    • John Farrell

      The challengers got the same photos too and they’re alot better than they were when I ran.

      • cRAzy

        Could it have been the subject??? Ka-ching!

    • Karen Goff

      The newcomers have the same headshots.

    • John Bowman

      This is too easy, I regret to inform you that no make-up was provided – I walked in off the street, so to speak! 🙂 I think it is fair play to provide equal exposure to all candidates. Selfies just would not measure up. /jb

      • Mike M

        Well, yours looks that way. 😉

        I guess Danielle, Eve, and April just have great skin tone and photograph really well.

  • John Farrell

    Eve’s transparency answer is a well rehearsed and shop-worn dodge.

    Everything that RA does is either a personnel issue or a contract issue. There’s an executive session at almost every RA Board meeting and they often last longer than the open meeting.

    Those open meetings are mostly amateur political theater that are consumed with staff presentations reading written reports which apparently few on the Board take the time to read before the meeting followed by vapid platitudes from too many Board members repeating the same generalities.

    Those of us who follow the Board know that all the contentious issues are discussed and decided in closed session along with a fair amount of time spent gossiping about the few members who actually attend the meetings. Most of the Tetra “deliberations,” misinformation and disinformation occurred in closed session.

    Just because the Board may be allowed to go into closed session doesn’t mean it is in the best interest of RA to do so.

    And it’s not just the Board, Covenants Committee meets with the offending property owner in closed session. The affected neighbors are excluded too often from the formation of a resolution.

    Then there’s the antagonistic relationship between RA’s flak, its CEO and RestonNow. Stiff-arming the one news outlet that focuses exclusively on Reston is not in the membership’s best interest.

    So sorry, Eve, but guilty as charge – too much of RA acts like a secret sorority where the mean girls get their kicks keeping the great unwashed in the dark.

    • cRAzy

      I’ll give some credit to Pres. Ellen Graves reducing this strong Board tendency from the days of her predecessor, Ken Konnivin’, no thanks to Eve.

    • JohnBT

      How many Executive Sessions is too many? By my count (using the Agenda’s on the RA site) there were 21 meetings and it looks like 8 Exec sessions. It seems like the Board has to be able to discuss some thing off camera if they’re going to do anything contractual.

      https://www.reston.org/AboutRestonAssociation/Governance/BoardofDirectors/BoardMeetingMinutesArchives/tabid/214/Default.aspx

      • cRAzy

        So what was discussed in those sessions? I’ll start with the multi-million dollar Tetra deal, Lake Anne land swap of an acre of woodland for a stormwater ditch. You tell me the topics of the others.

  • cRAzy

    Say, Eve, how did voting on that RA matter in which you stated ahead of time you had a conflict of interest work out for you?
    Any other conflicts of interest you haven’t disclosed? ‘Fess up now….

    • JohnBT

      Please cRAzy– elaborate. You can’t just make accusations.

      • cRAzy

        Ask Eve, just as I did.

        • JohnBT

          cRAzy- you didn’t ask a question. You’re just puttin out some hate- but I guess your handle sort of says it all. So since you won’t engage in an actual discussion I’ll just ignore.

  • John Higgins

    Limiting “transparency” to a board’s use of executive sessions seriously misses the mark. A transparent organization facilitates understanding of how it is managed, why it does what it does, how it uses the resources available to it. Who are its vendors, what are its costs (in granular detail), what information firms the basis for management and governance? RA, like many organizations, has a long way to go.

    As one who has participated in many RA executive sessions, and with no dog in the fight, I’d share the observation that the board has been faithful to the limited boundaries for these closed sessions. In over 15 years of sitting through these trials-by-blather, not once was a topic brought there inappropriately. At times, the conversations would stray, but quickly be brought back in line by a director or counsel.

    As members, we can expect greater transparency from RA. I’d like to see a focus on that broader objective.

    • John Farrell

      John, you’ve added several useful additional examples of RAs lack of transparency.

      Respectfully, you miss the point about the excess use of executive sessions by the RA Board.

      Reading the law broadly, the entirety of RA’s Board business could be held in executive session since it all involves either a contract or personnel. The criticism is that deliberations that could safely be held in open session are instead held in closed session whenever possible.

      And that was but one of three points about lack of transpacrency in the earlier comment.

  • meh

    To summarize:

    1. “We’re transparent, trust me. Why would I lie to you?”
    2. “It’s our money, if you don’t like it – leave Reston”
    3. “We need more of your money to keep Reston, “Reston”

    • Sally Forth

      Why would she lie?

  • Ming the Merciless

    We have an outstanding website

    Bwahahahaha!

    For some members any additional spending equals waste. For me it’s the lack of accomplishment.

    Oy. Many of us wish government at all levels would stop “accomplishing” things at their expense…

    In short, I’ll be voting against “accomplishment” and against Eve.

  • Sandra James

    Wow. Just wow! It really is true. No good deed really does go unpunished! The Eve Thompson I know works her a$$ off for her community. What she’s done for Lake Anne is wonderful. She might be bossy but she knows how to get things done.

    • cRAzy

      You’re right about Thompson and Lake Anne. In fact, she went so far as to throw the rest of the community in the hole so she could get what she wanted at Lake Anne where she and her husband have substantial real estate interests. This includes her support of the Tetra purchase, the land swap, making Tall Oaks (actually in her district) a cluster, and more. I don’t know if she’s bossy, but she is not fit to be a community-wide representative on the RA Board. She will only support what’s best for her and maybe Lake Anne.

      • Karen Goff

        To be fair, ALL the RA directors supported Tetra and the land swap, that’s why they passed. The jury is still out on Tall Oaks, as it is still in the planning stages and RA Board as a whole has asked for changes.

        • cRAzy

          So maybe we also need to hold Dannielle LaRosa, the only other incumbent up for re-election, accountable for her actions as well. Yet she has not real estate or other business interests at Lake so far as I know.

          At Tall Oaks, Thompson initially supported a residential cluster there with maybe a convenience center. No need for Lake Anne competition nearby. Her position has changed as this election has approached, sort of Donald Trump-ish.

      • Eve Thompson

        Dear Ed Abott aka cRAzy-
        At the time of land swap- a vote I rescued myself from out an abundance of concern regarding the perception that being a condo owner could create for some members. My “substantial” real estate holdings consisted of my 2BR 2 Bath Condo currently valued at about 400k.

        My husband and I have since purchased (9/2015) the Lake Anne Coffee House, but I fail to see how the purchase of the Coffee House has any relationship to the Tetra purchase- which was supported by the entire board.

        What I support of Tall Oaks is a superior design. What is being proposed is not superior design. Unfortunately as uninspired as what is being offered in Tall Oaks is– it is allowable under the Comprehensive Plan. The Land Use Policy that we- the RA Board put in place has created a path for community input to development that process is underway, as you know, the developer so far has been largely unresponsive.It may have to be at the DRB where that sad excuse for a design is sent back to the drawing board.

        In terms of my “fitness” as a community representative, you are welcome to your opinion. But I will not tolerate your deliberate misrepresentations or false characterization of my dealings as an RA Board Member.

  • east297

    Duh….wasteful spending…TETRA…assessments will eventually triple or more due to that inappropriate purchase.

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