2017 Reston Association Board Election: Meet John Mooney

John Mooney/Reston AssociationVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is John Mooney, who is facing Arlene Krieger (profile) in the race for the North Point District seat. The two squared off in a candidate forum last week.

Profiles of candidates in the races for the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat and an At-Large seat will run later this week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

Susan and I bought our Hampton Pointe condo in March 2016, and it was love that brought us here.

First was our love for each other — two widowed people, she living on a forested farm in West Virginia and I living in suburban Fairfax County for the last 27 years, meeting miraculously on Match.com. She had grown up and worked in cities for her first 30 years and enjoyed city culture, but she loved the country. I had lived in cities all my life but also enjoyed nature’s beauty. Farms are hard as people age, so when we married Susan agreed to move to Fairfax.

Then it was love of Reston. As we looked for a new home, urban and typical suburban settings couldn’t satisfy her soul. We looked all over northern Virginia. She kept saying, “I think I need to live in Reston.” We love Reston’s trees and trails and bike paths, the proximity of the wooded residential neighborhoods to Reston Town Center, and its easy access to the DC region. We fell in love with Bob Simon’s vision for Reston, an open and diverse community that strives for harmony at so many levels. We love how dedicated Restonians have preserved so much of that vision.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Running for the board was the furthest thing from my mind when we bought our condo. It was the awareness that Simon’s vision was challenged today, and that my 27 years in local-government management could help RA face that challenge, that changed my mind.

The wake-up call was the proposed monster redevelopment of St. Johns Wood Apartments right in our neighborhood. In June 2016, we joined a small leadership team that had formed around the online petition opposing the project. We attended various hearings and gave testimony. I wrote some analyses of SJW’s incompatibility with the Reston Master Plan that were posted on the RA website and on Reston 20/20. Some members of the community then asked me to consider a run for the board.

The SJW involvement made me aware of other challenges facing Reston, ones I had dealt with throughout my career. Running for the Board made sense.

But there’s other inspiration for running, really the deepest. The last words in the magnificent film about Reston, “A Different Way of Living,” are spoken by Bob Simon himself: “Community is what it’s all about.” That has been one of my deepest, lifelong convictions and passions. Running is my (and our) investment in our Reston community.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

My three biggest concerns are internal governance, development and redevelopment pressures, and its relationship with Fairfax County and state/regional agencies.

Reston has internal governance challenges. RA must keep assessments as low as possible while maintaining service excellence. A capital improvements plan should frame the evaluation of all capital expenditures. RA needs early and thorough analysis of complicated proposals so that new Tetras don’t occur. It needs to inform and involve affected groups and neighborhoods early on big issues. Finally, it needs to demonstrate transparency and accountability in its deliberations and decisions.

Metro’s arrival heightened the development pressures on Reston from construction in Reston Town Center and the Dulles Corridor. Reston also faces internal re-development challenges, like St. Johns Wood and Tall Oaks. As Reston’s early construction ages, the redevelopment pressure will accelerate. RA, RTC and the Dulles Corridor must work as a harmonious “One Reston” or we’ll all fail.

Fairfax County is Reston’s local government. Had the county not approved Reston’s “residential planned community” zoning in 1962, Reston would not exist. But Fairfax County’s growth orientation can endanger the Reston vision.  We must increase collaboration with the county and state/regional agencies, but in a way that protects and advances Reston’s unique interests.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

The short version: I hope to help RA successfully address the challenges noted in the previous question.

Let me highlight a few specifics I want to focus on:

  • RA Governance: RA needs stronger analytic capacity (staff, contractual or committees) to analyze complex issues. It also needs a better community-involvement process to improve members’ confidence in RA.
  • Development/Redevelopment Pressures: RA needs to “protect the protections” of our Reston vision — the Reston Deed and the Reston Master Plan. Case law shows that failure to enforce consistently either an HOA deed or a master plan weakens their protective power in future legal battles. We need the RA, and especially the RA Design Review Board, to rigorously ensure that proposed large development projects follow the RA Deed, Design Standards and Master Plan.
  • Relation with the County and State/Regional Agencies: We need designated RA liaisons (RA Board members, RA committee members, or both) to engage regularly with the county and with agencies like the Virginia Department of Transportation, Metro and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

The first asset I’d bring as an RA Board director would be my 27 years in local government management, 17 of those in Arlington County, and 7 of those as Arlington’s senior Assistant County Manager. (Details are at Mooney4Reston.com.) I helped maintain and further Arlington’s regional reputation of excellent services within a fiscally responsible budget. We made sure that community processes informed, involved, and listened to all affected groups. We did strategic regional networking.  We used wise capital-improvements planning and budgeting. Perhaps above all, we were doggedly faithful to Arlington’s comprehensive plan despite strong pressures for over-development.

I also bring my background in ethics generally and local government ethics specifically. I have a Ph.D. in philosophy with a specialization in ethics and have taught local-government ethics courses to employees of Arlington County, the District of Columbia and Montgomery County. I’m confident that I can help the RA Board and members in their concerns about RA’s internal ethics.

Finally, I bring decades of personal effort of working for the common good, of building up community at many levels — civic, religious and political. Helping communities grow and succeed has always been my greatest joy.

Read more about Mooney and the other candidates in the 2017 Reston Association election on RA’s website.


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