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2017 Reston Association Board Election: Meet Eric Carr

by RestonNow.com — March 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Eric Carr/RAVoting 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 Eric Carr, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last 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?

I have lived here for 19 years. I picked Reston on purpose, and bought my first home here, because it felt like a different kind of community than the other places I’d considered in Northern Virginia. I loved the trees, the trails, the sense of togetherness. I also liked that Reston embodied ideals that were missing in other communities: multicultural, worldly, progressive, innovative, and a place for people of all incomes and backgrounds.

It felt like it meant something to be a Restonian, and I thought that was something I wanted my family to experience, especially my kids. I loved that. I wanted them to be from somewhere, not just from a bland, unremarkable suburb of Washington.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Nineteen years later, it feels like a lot of what I mentioned in that first answer is gone or eroding. It used to be that, driving around NoVA, you knew when you got to Reston. It doesn’t really feel like that anymore in many respects.

It is a very good thing that we have the Metro, because it connects us to cultural, educational, and sporting events downtown, helping to further broaden the experiences of our community. However, the Metro has brought a wave of redevelopment that was never anticipated in the Reston Master Plan, and it shows. The redevelopment will bring new neighborhoods into our community, which may or may not be part of the Reston Association, which may or may not connect to our paths and use our facilities and take part in our communal activities, yet they will also be Restonians.

RA was meant to be the connective tissue that makes Reston the single community that it is. If we get redevelopment wrong, however, we’ll start to look like all those other NoVA suburbs. That would utterly destroy Bob Simon’s vision. Redevelopment is in some ways inevitable, but this is a critical time when we can still shape what it looks like and how these new people fit into our community.

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

The challenges we now face, and will face over the next 5 years, are much larger and more complex than anything we’ve had to face, and so far the RA is not up to the task. The Board doesn’t hold the RA staff to account, and the RA staff doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. Tetra, Pony Barn, bocce ball, Lake Newport Fields, indoor tennis, indoor rec center, the pool pass mess — these are just some of the recent disasters we’ve all had to endure. They all have a common theme, though: lack of a strong planning process from the outset and almost zero membership input before a decision is made. Over the past 5-7 years, the number of self-inflicted wounds has increased dramatically.

My three biggest concerns: The Board doesn’t hold the staff accountable. The staff makes decisions without Board or membership input. And neither entity has put together an honest long-term budget and planning process to anticipate changes and preempt problems.

The RA is the glue that binds all Restonians together. If we can’t do these three things, and soon, the RA will fail. It is already losing our members’ confidence. We have to turn this ship around.

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

The Board needs to do its job better. The coziness between Board and staff has led us astray, and has given us a Board and staff that do not respond to the membership. The Board needs strong leadership, needs the courage to ask challenging questions, have difficult conversations, and insist on results. Our Board of Directors represents us, the membership, and it has to insist that RA exists for the benefit of all of us. I think most people would agree that it doesn’t feel that way these past several years.

I want to put that spine into the Board, and I will lead by example. In an organization such as the RA, the Board exists to provide strategic oversight, scrutinize our finances, and ensure a holistic approach to fulfilling the membership’s needs. The Board is our voice. We elect them to speak for us. I want that to become reality once more. I will insist that the membership be involved in capital project planning and that all stakeholders are made aware of proposed changes to our community before decisions are made. I will have those difficult conversations with our staff. I will ask the uncomfortable questions.

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

I have lived here 19 years. I raised a family here. I have become involved in every aspect of what it means to be a Restonian. I have seen our community grow and change. I have the passion and deep personal attachment to Reston and my fellow Restonians.

I have served on corporate boards. I have lead teams large and small, and managed multi-million dollar budgets. I know what it means to serve on an effective board of directors, and I have done so. I have had those difficult conversations, and have reshaped large organizations around common, strategic goals.

For most of my 19 years here, I was content to pay my dues, go to work, raise my family, and enjoy the great amenities that we have here. The past several years, though, I haven’t been able to shake this nagging sense that we’ve derailed, that we’re losing our way. We are being overrun by the change, and this is the critical moment, where we can shape that change to keep the best parts of Reston. I am running because I feel compelled to help, and to apply my perspective, experience, and passion for our community, so that new families will feel about Reston the way I did 19 years ago.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

  • Elisabeth

    Eric, I hope you will be elected. This is the best and most convincing statement I have read of any of the candidates.

    • Eric Carr

      Elisabeth, thank you!

  • Paul

    This guy sounds like he has a messiah complex.

  • Bernie Supporter

    Eric, you hit it on the nail. The board needs more spine. And the board and the staff need to be more responsive to the community’s voice and needs. If elected, you sound like you’ll speak FOR us. Thank you.

    • Eric Carr

      Thank you! I believe very strongly in what I said at the candidate forum: the org chart starts with the membership at the top. The staff and board serve the membership, and their allegiance is to the membership, not to themselves.

  • Donald

    Mr. Carr, as you can see from the other threads, a question came back to life on Ms. Krieger’s Q&A page, so please allow me to ask the same here. (I’m asking all the candidates.)

    Reston National Golf Course is under constant threat of being redeveloped. Reston Association, Rescue Reston and the County continue to be vigilant, spending precious time and dollars, to defend the open space. Hidden Creek CC, could conceivably go the same route as RNGC.

    Reston Association has committed to purchasing (via referendum) the RNGC as a last resort to preserve the property.

    What would you do, if either of these items came to you while serving on the board?

    Good luck to you and thank you,
    Donald

    • Eric Carr

      Donald,

      There’s a few too many “If”s to give a definite answer right now. What I mean is this: the law is that both courses are open space. That has to change, regardless of landowner, before there will even be a conversation about buying them to preserve them.

      For HCCC, that means the county really can’t apply eminent domain for its wishlist connector. For RNGC, that means Northwestern Mutual can call it whatever it wants, but that doesn’t mean they can sell it as residential land.

      Ideally, long term, both courses are owned by entities that accept that they own and run golf courses. As for what I’d do if the issue came to the Board, it really depends on how it got there. I don’t say that to weasel out of an answer — it just really depends. Let me be clear though. Those courses sit on open space, and that’s how it will be.

      Also, at this point, our focus should be on maintaining the current zoning designation. If we talk as though the zoning can change (and supposing that RA or a public entity would buy it to save it gives voice to that effect), we may end up emboldening Northwestern Mutual. I don’t want to do that.

      RA needs to lead, along with Rescue Reston, and make sure the county doesn’t waver and that potential buyers know full well it can’t be developed.

      • Tammi Petrine

        Thanks, Eric! You have captured the essence of the zoning re: the golf courses in our master plan. As one would expect, any move to develop either will meet stiff legal and community opposition. You have referenced the complex rules that determine our future. Thanks for running! We need directors who understand county processes & rules and hold tight to the vision of open space adjacent to a very dense DTR corridor. One without the other is untenable if we are to hold onto our concept of a planned community. Thanks for your resolve and approach to the situation as it exists.

      • Donald

        Thank you Mr. Carr.

      • Conservative Senior

        It’s fine for RA to verbablly support keeping RNGC as a golf course/open space but they should not consider ever buying it. Someone suggested that the park authority purchase it which sounds like a better idea. We cannot afford another lake house fiasco.

  • TRS

    I voted for Heidi only because she is a woman. Until we get more diversity on this boards, I will continue to vote in favor of diversity. Let the berating of me begin!

    • JoeInReston

      Are you aware of the current gender make up of the board?

    • Sick of RA

      It might help if you knew what you were talking about.

    • The Constitutionalist

      The only berating of you is because you are voting someone based on their sex and not on their qualifications. I hope you realize that in the majority of the progressive world, that’s sexist. Which is something you no doubt protest on the weekends to end.

      All you’re doing is hammering a wedge into this gender divide while it’s trying to heal.

  • dudewe

    Mr. Carr: Now that we have a”review” and not an investigation, we need strong action; just seeing what went wrong and what should be done differently in the future is not good enough! The RA Board needs to remove the CEO and other top echelon who were involved in the Tetra fiasco. Responsibility comes with authority. Don’t let the CEO, and some of the directors of RA sweep this incidence under the rug.

  • Sally Forth

    Naaaw. He’s a —- well really omg, do we need him and Ray Wedell!

    • cRAzy

      Carr is a good counterpoint to Wedell, so, YES, we do need him!

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