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2017 Reston Association Board Election: Meet Ven Iyer

by RestonNow.com — March 17, 2017 at 11:30 am 38 Comments

Ven Iyer/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 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:

  • JoeInReston

    I like this guy. Articulate and blunt without being shrill or mean spirited.

    • vdiv

      He has my vote too. I hope he can indeed follow through with his platform and proposals and that he would be able to gather and maintain support among us.

    • cRAzy

      I characterize it as articulate and negative. We don’t need additional divisiveness on the Board.

      • JoeInReston

        On further review, I stand corrected. The answers are a bit more divisive than I original parsed.

      • Bernie Supporter

        No one wants divisiveness for divisiveness sake. But I see some very bad and costly decisions coming out of RA, and I think Reston may be better served with voices on the Board who are in touch and responsive to the anger the many of us feel. Someone like Mr. Iyer may be the perfect choice. Of course, the good news is that the at-large race offers quite a few candidates who also appear unwilling to “go along to get along.” I’ve been to too many RA meetings where a board member’s ideas were literally shot down by an immediate down vote — with little or no discussion on the issue raised. I believe Mr. Iyer will generate more lively, more fully explored discussions. (Some of the other at-large candidates will as well, I think.) In my mind, that can only be good.

      • Rational Reston

        Agreed. I don’t see Mr. Iyer’s divisive tone and grandstanding to be something to make the RA Board, or RA better entities.

  • Donald

    Mr. Iyer, please allow me to keep asking what started on Ms. Krieger’s Q&A page. (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?

    Thank you,
    Donald

  • cRAzy

    So why the oblique pot shots at your opponents on key issues in violation of RA election rules?
    First, you attack RA’s “own Tetra Review Committee,” which was half non-RA Board members, including its Chair and one of your opponents, Eric Carr, and delivered EXACTLY what the contract asked for–a forensic description of Tetra events. Maybe you can explain why you think this fell short at Monday’s special Board meeting on the topic.
    Second, you criticize the “special interest group with tremendous access to the officers of the corporation” pushing the Lake Newport soccer field development. What? So far as I know, they have no more access than you or I do. Its a smear on the group headed by another opponent, Roberto Anguizola.
    We don’t need these kinds of personal attacks even if you half cleverly didn’t put the names in. This is not leadership, this is a smear tactics. Not at all what we need on the RA Board at a time of divisiveness.

    • JoeInReston

      “First, you attack RA’s “own Tetra Review Committee,” which was half
      non-RA Board members, including its Chair and one of your opponents,
      Eric Carr, and delivered EXACTLY what the contract asked for–a forensic
      description of Tetra events. Maybe you can explain why you think this
      fell short at Monday’s special Board meeting on the topic.”

      I didn’t perceive Iyer’s comments as an attack on the Tetra Review Committee but on the board’s process for the Tetra review. The fact the the contract only asked a forensic description of Tetra events is one area where the review fell short. Iyer explained additional shortcomings, “30 pages of process and policy philosophies devoid of individual culpability, law-breaking and conflicts of interest”. Article comments on Reston Now at the time review came out bear out others who were disappointed in the outcome. Again, this is not criticism of the committee members. It is criticism on the board.

      • cRAzy

        “law-breaking”???
        Put up or shut up!

    • The Constitutionalist

      I think the report fell short by about….$44,999

  • 30yearsinreston

    Cleaning the management stables at RA would be a good start

    • cRAzy

      Are you talking about the pony barn???

  • Bernie Supporter

    The problem with the Stone Turn Group delivering exactly what the Lake House contract called for was that it was limited by its contract at what it could look into… as in culpability. I could not cost my employer an extra million dollars without finding myself quickly unemployed at best, or worse, held legally responsible. The contract, as I understand it, was limited by the Reston Association itself, according to Stone Turn’s representatives, who I have no reason not to believe. To want to get to the bottom of what really happened seems like a reasonable response to me.

  • Rational Reston

    Mr. Iyer’s positions trouble me. He’s feeding on the pent up frustrations with RA, but funneling them in a negative way.

    He’s seized on the soccer field situation and has used it to promote his candidacy and incorrect facts. He’s continually colors the price tag of the fields as a RA expense, where Reston Soccer has from the start offered to pay for the fields themselves only asking to do so on RA property. He also colors the project as ‘destruction’. As one of the fields is in some pretty poor shape, due to poor drainage, and another is at best adequate, one may make the assertion that the destruction was already done by poor maintenance at the fields. He also used the RA meeting more as a stump speech pointing out the all too well known issues with the Lake House, instead of actually addressing a point about the soccer fields (he’s very proud of his speech on his FB candidacy page).

    I can’t help but think Mr. Iyer is jumping on every Reston populist issue just for earning brownie points with all of the various champions of these issues.

    My vote will be cast elsewhere.

    • Bernie Supporter

      While everyone is always entitled to cast their vote for whomever they choose (there are a LOT of good candidates in this race to choose from) I think dismissing Mr. Iyer as jumping on “populist” issues to earn brownie points is somewhat off the mark.

      Much of the community is extremely angry at RA, and being responsive to that anger is not just politics. Its listening. If Mr. Iyer really wanted to be a populist, he would NOT have come out against the Soccer Field. Too many voters with small children. As I understand Mr. Iyer, his objection to the Soccer Field was that it basically gave away a common area to a special interest group, the Reston Soccer Association.

      As for the Lake House, many Restonians DO want to know who was responsible — including many of the other candidates in the debate. Were there conflicts of interests involved? RA limited the scope of what the Stone Turn Group, so that it couldn’t look into that aspect of the sale.

      • Rational Reston

        But if Mr. Iyer comes out against the soccer fields, he brings in a bunch of Lake Newport votes who are notoriously anti, well everything that has anything to do around Lake Newport.

        His FB candidacy page is filled with him jumping on every local protest bandwaggon. Little positive messaging except RA bringing in that new development off Sunrise Valley and Reston open spaces are kind of nice.

        It’s obvious that everyone’s skepticism of the Lake House deal is valid and needs more information, but my point above is that Mr. Iyer calculated to use the soccer field meeting to give a stump speech and rail against the Lake House issues. There are valid issue that could have been brought up, but he used it to promote himself instead of community needs and issues.

        • Bernie Supporter

          I hadn’t been aware of Mr. Iyer’s FB candidacy page, as I admit I haven’t followed any of the candidates on FB. (Basically, I go there to chat with friends.) But I went to it based on your post and didn’t see what you saw … unless “every local protest” is protesting about assessment fees, the Soccer Field, further investigating the Tetra purchase disaster, and (one I didn’t know about before) that he turned out for the protest march against Paid Parking in RTC, the only at-large candidate to do so. I didn’t see it as jumping on a bandwagon. I saw four issues, all important to me, and I wish all candidates in all races were advocating the same.

          • John k.

            I saw charles handing out flyers and chanting with a few volunteers of his at that protest. I actually gave him my sign when I had to go pick up my kids.

          • Mike Collins

            I was at the RTC march and I advertised it on my FB page. Perhaps you missed the part on Ven’s page where he called John Higgins an “RA Establishment troll” because John pointed out how Ven’s assessment fee chart could be construed as misleading. And, yes, Ven has a flyer that implies that the defunct soccer field improvements would have been an RA expense.

          • Bernie Supporter

            I wish all you guys had more of a chance to talk at your debate. That format was so limiting, you all had one hand tied behind your back.

          • Mike Collins

            Totally agree, though this was better than previous years in which there was zero opportunity for rebuttals, so at least the Elections Committee gave it a shot. The question about giving exceptions or waivers to developers was a great example of an issue that required clarification and follow up that wasn’t possible. I’m not sure I addressed what the questioner was really asking.

        • Eric McErlain

          Ven Iyer has a very simple positive message – that there’s a better way to run the RA for the benefit of all of its members. No more pet projects. No more pie in the sky initiatives that put the RA treasury on the hook for the bill.

          • The Constitutionalist

            I think you mean, put Reston residents on the hook for the bill.

          • Eric McErlain

            Indeed, I do.

    • Eric McErlain

      The Lake Newport Soccer project is a prime example of how Reston insiders are manipulating the system for their own benefit at the expense of the rest of the members of the RA. It’s time to clean house, and Ven Iyer, who can apply bottom line discipline to RA operations, is just the candidate to do it.

      • Rational Reston

        No issue with the fact that the RA Board’s system is far from transparent.

        Though I have issue with Mr. Iyer purposely and continually mischaracterizing what Reston Soccer proposed. Namely that THEY would have paid for the project, NOT RA. While he has spoken against the issue, his comments at the RA meeting (https://www.youtube.com/embed/PU7eyEsM48o?start=7980&end=8252&autoplay=1 Mr. Iyer speaks at 2:12:55) are merely to publicize himself and his candidacy only after 3 minutes of complaining about Tetra, did he even mention the issue at hand.

        If elected to the board, would Mr. Iyer continue such behavior? Wandering off topic whenever he feels he has the floor?

        Mr. Iyer give the impression of something different but after 15+ years of living in Reston, I don’t see Mr. Iyer as someone that will solve the issues of the RA Board and RA itself.

        • mdunn9367

          I did not get that impression after watching the video. The point Iyer makes in the video is that at the heels of the Tetra fiasco, why should the community trust RA’s ability to evaluate proposals fairly, divvy financial obligations and draft legal agreements which makes sense to me. Also, other candidates – Arlene Krieger, John Mooney, Mike Collins – all spoke in that meeting. Election Referenda encourages candidates to speak about their platform in community meetings.

          • Rational Reston

            Self promotion is awesome then. Forget the agenda and the discussions.

            BTW, that’s how we have an out of control RA Board.

          • ???

            Self-promotion is decidedly not synonymous with misstating the paradigm; a rational person would presume misunderstanding, FYSA…

          • Bernie Supporter

            Strongly disagree. I see the Board abuse of “Robert’s Rules of Order” to shut people up, and shut discussion down. The last thing they ever seem to want is discussion and disagreement.

        • ???

          The matter of who pays for the soccer field proposal is immaterial. The proposal constitutes a violation of the Reston Master Plan. That land is not up for grabs. It is to remain accessible by all Restonians for multiple purposes.

          • Rational Reston

            ??? Then that should be Mr. Iyer’s point, and he should not color it as RA would have paid for it as that was never proposed.

            He’s spreading falsehoods for his own gain.

          • ???

            I’ll be sure to relay that.

          • Bernie Supporter

            Exactly the point.

    • Bernie Supporter

      Populist issues are populist for a reason. The community agrees with them. But most of the other candidates seem tone deaf to the anger this community is feeling. So jump on, Mr. Iyer, and don’t worry about stump speeches. So few people are even aware of the issues that affect their daily lives, you can’t state your position often enough. (Especially with SO many people vying for the same one seat.) I want to know what distinguishes you from the rest of the pack — and you did! (But you do have a race on your hands. Quite a few good candidates to choose from in this one, you among them.)

  • Long Time Reston Resident

    I have observed Ven Iyer on many occasions over the past couple of months, by virtue of my involvement with RA. In my opinion, he is the only candidate who has the strength to insist on accountability by the Board, while remaining professional. I have seen him endure verbal attacks from other candidates’ supporters. He responded forcefully to set the record straight while retaining a sense of decorum. No other candidate has consistently maintained the positions that concern me in the way that Mr. Iyer has.

  • WOW!

    The Reston Master Plan is on the chopping block, Folks. Multiple candidates appear to be lying down, resigned to accept sweeping change and unchecked development at the expense of existing residents’ way of life.
    Ven Iyer is the ONLY At-Large candidate who has repeatedly committed to keep Reston Reston (e.g., protected wetlands, trees, wildflower meadows, green space to be accessed by all for multi-purpose use). No other jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan Area is committed to green space and wildlife. This is why many of us selected Reston. If these differentiators resonate with you, I believe the only wise vote is for Ven Iyer.

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