Voting 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 Ven Iyer, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (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 enjoyed living in Reston near Lake Anne for eight years.
I was born and raised in Mumbai in a middle-class family. After completing my bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering, I came to the United States to earn a master’s degree in Computer Science. After graduation, I proceeded to take a job at IBM, which allowed me to live anywhere in the country and travel across the United States to customers.
Ten years ago, I was living in Florida, and planning to start my own technology company. I was searching for a place to call home, with plenty of open space and outdoor activities. I happened upon Reston, which was featured as one of the top places to live in America. I flew into Dulles to explore the area, and I was captivated by what Reston had to offer.
After renting in Ashburn for a couple years, I bought my first home near Lake Anne in May 2009. I also went on to start my technology company. We are a small and minority-owned business, and our customers are local, state and federal government agencies. Thus, Reston has been instrumental in my personal and professional life.
What inspired you to run for the board?
Our assessments have nearly doubled in the past 15 years. This is neither warranted nor sustainable. I have spoken to retirees who are faced with the difficult decision of moving out of Reston. They lived within their means, their homes are paid off, and now the assessments are a sizable portion of their fixed income. If this does not worry you now, think again. In another 30 years, the Reston that we know now won’t be affordable by those who aren’t wealthy.
The cumulative year-over-year assessment increase percentage is almost twice that of inflation over the past 15 years. Those additional monies fuel RA’s well-documented spending habits of operating outside the scope of its mission statement. I want to stop the rapidly rising assessment bills and stop RA’s bad spending behavior.
I want to stop projects that are invasive on our neighbors and nature. I recently campaigned along with the Preserve Newport Fields coalition of residents, and together we successfully stopped the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal to demolish natural fields. Other proposals like redevelopment of St. Johns Wood apartments and Reston National Golf Course to dense residential properties puts RA in the frontline to protect the Reston way of life.
What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?
The biggest concerns for the Reston community are from RA’s behavior of wasteful spending, operating outside its mission scope, and simply put, strange conduct.
RA pushed for the purchase of the Tetra Lake House at more than twice its county-assessed value, made estimates on complex repairs instead of getting multiple professional estimates, drafted sloppy rent-back agreements allowing former owners to walk away and did not write an objective referendum. When the community wanted an independent investigation, RA conveniently appointed its own Tetra Review Committee, hardly making it independent, and therefore ineffective. This is evident when an effort by citizen subject-matter experts for a truly independent investigation at a pro-bono price of $1 got derailed, and another bidder’s $45,000 deliverable yielded 30 pages of process and policy philosophies devoid of individual culpability, law-breaking and conflicts of interest.
I wrote to the RA Election Committee in February asking them to collect COI disclosure statements from all candidates so that the community knows who they are voting for, to which they refused. Meanwhile, the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal is a $2.4 million spending proposal by a special interest group with tremendous access to the officers of the corporation. These proceedings are anything but normal.
What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?
I want to establish effective audits, member inclusion and better two-way communications to improve transparency.
Currently, RA uses it own convenient interpretation of rules, closed executive sessions, bare meeting minutes and restrictive member input in its decision-making process, rendering RA’s edicts to be unilateral and unfair to members. RA decisions in Tetra, the land swap and the soccer proposal demonstrate this pattern.
I also want to dismantle the ineffective Tetra Review Committee and salvage the independent pro bono investigation bid by citizen subject-matter experts. Who else but the citizens of Reston, completely removed from the Tetra deal and directly affected by it, will help give us closure? This time, RA must make certain that its board and legal counsel don’t stonewall and derail this effort.
I will vote to reduce operating expenses and review excess reserve funds. Projects related to safety and maintenance of existing facilities will be given priority, and all capital expenditures will be thoroughly vetted.
I will remind RA of its mission statement and make certain that it does not expand or operate outside those boundaries. I will remind RA that they operate with their members’ money and trust, and the board must always be cognizant of that.
How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?
I am grateful to this country; it has facilitated everything I’ve achieved, and that makes me want to give back even more.
I have already been involved in community service with Fairfax County organizations. At HART, I drove a van full of rescue animals to and from Fauquier County to Fairfax County for adoption events. At FACETS, I assisted parents and children affected by poverty in Fairfax County and mentored students towards well-paying careers in technology.
I am running for the Reston Association Board of Directors as an At-Large candidate because I believe my positions on key issues will benefit the entire Reston community. You can learn more about my positions on key issues at veniyer.com or facebook.com/voteforven. As the President of a technology company with customers in state, local and federal government, I have experience in bringing the required change while operating within a defined scope and constraints.
Finally, during my campaign, I have met some terrific Restonians with excellent insight into the issues and solutions, and many who are eager to help. I am certain that I can do my job better with their involvement and hope that the community will participate in making my service successful.
PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:
- David Bobzien (Apartment Owners’ representative)
- Arlene Krieger (North Point District seat)
- John Mooney (North Point District seat)
- Victoria White (Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat)
- Syazana Durrani (Hunters Woods/Dogwood District seat)
- Roberto Anguizola (At-Large seat)
- Eric Carr (At-Large seat)
- Mike Collins (At-Large seat)
- Charles Dorfeuille (At-Large seat)
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