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2018 Reston Association Board Election: Meet Julie Bitzer

by RestonNow.com February 22, 2018 at 2:30 pm 25 Comments

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is Julie Bitzer, who is facing one other candidate for the three-year South Lakes District seat. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. 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?

January 1980, 38 years ago – Reston just felt right, my “magical Reston” the term I use with family, friends, and co-workers.  And it was close to work in Tysons. A Hunters Woods Deepwood townhome was affordable as a starter home.  Fourteen years later, I moved to my current home of 24 years off the 14th hole of Reston National Golf Course.  

What inspired you to run for the board?

Reston had everything I wanted in a forever home. I had embraced the Bob Simon vision actualized through “Live, Work, Play” and the diversity of Restonians in age, culture, values and economics. I had open natural space and lakes, protected and accessible. I had village centers populated by small businesses within walking and biking distance. And I had a golf course threatened by developers where letting one open space slip away would open the door to more onslaughts and increased population density without promised infrastructure.

So, I put my own skin in the game as South Lakes District Director. Three years later, with still more to be done –  I run to continue working for “us”.

Having active involvement as board liaison on three RA committees –  Design Review Board, Covenants, and Parks & Recreation Advisory, I know where and how we can improve our member service. I’ve supported members navigating the RA process for covenants and design review, clusters’ property & trail access, boat & lake policy, and even commercial redevelopment. One “fight” as director was to ensure the County was held accountable for stream restoration off South Lakes – a long-neglected erosion and safety issue.  Enduring the loss of Tall Oaks Village Center to residential development, I will fight to preserve our South Lakes Village Center, proactively working with RA’s Land Use Development team.

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

We stand to lose our sense of community, the very spirit and essence of the Reston vision as we face external forces of growth and fiscal assessment pressure. How can we effectively reach both old and new members, and unite?

RA must deliver a tangible return on our assessment dollars, reflective of our needs and wants. We must continue to seek more efficient and optimal methods to deliver value; yet RA expenditure decisions must not be reduced to a purely monetary business case scenario. Facilities and programs supporting our community and shared experiences could be significantly impacted or eliminated depending on the election outcome – such as our neighborhood walkable pools, our camps, Walker Nature Center, and ad hoc programming by which to enjoy Reston’s amenities.  We’re a non-profit, established to provide services that support a fiscally responsible best quality way of life.

I want all voices in our community to be heard and reflected on our RA board.  A board made up of independent and individual thinkers, contributing to open transparent dialog.

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

In our greater community, there are many opportunities to volunteer and serve.  As an elected RA district director, my direct focus has been and will be on RA’s mission as a homeowner’s association, delivering valued, responsive and continually improving service cost-effectively. My priorities are –

#1 – Giving members what they value. From my conversations, it’s often about member service, making it easier to interact with RA – think Covenants, Design Review, pool & tennis passes. It’s about making sure we maintain and improve facilities – think pools/tennis/fields/trails/pavilions. To date, we have addressed facilities on an individual basis – think Hook Road or Pony Barn. We should evaluate our facilities long term future collectively against RA’s changing demographics.  Tackling this comprehensive analysis in phases, we should start with all pools in 2018 as we are faced with decisions on Thoreau pool’s future beyond the 2018 swim season (to repair, replace, some want to close?)

#2 – Continuing partnerships with grass-roots, citizen-led initiatives, lending support and voice where our RA and community interests align and are impacted by County and external forces. This includes organizations like Rescue Reston for open space, Reston Citizens Association and the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) with its focus on population density and infrastructure support.

#3 – Ensuring RA matures its business processes and operations controls to a standard, best practices level that is comparable to an equally-sized commercial business.  

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

I bring four decades of corporate experience in delivering quality solutions, programs and services to the Federal Government. My sales and marketing background provide strategic and tactical skills in identifying and meeting customer requirements.  My professional and graduate education provide expertise in best practices for business operations and controls. My Masters in Landscape Design supports my work with RA’s Design Review Board. Personally, I thrive in and have demonstrable skill in consensus-building, finding the win-win for all parties involved.

Find more information at facebook.com/Julie4RA.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

  • 30yearsinreston

    Just the usual babble about service
    Nothing about accountability and responsibility
    Has anyone experienced a RA staffer answer the phone?
    If that is too hard, anyone had a voicemail message returned ?

    • reston resident

      Agreed, This is mostly “good citizen” babble, as if she were running for high school class president or something. Notice that she does not address her support for the Lake House debacle once she took office, she was not even brave enough to publicly ask the important questions once the dirty deed was a done deal.

  • Donald

    I would like to hear more about which pools may be closed by this new cabal. I know many families who will be interested, and haven’t voted yet.

    Donald

    • John Farrell

      As part of its recent budget adoption, the current Board restored pool
      hours for the coming season to that which existed in 2016.

      As I understand it, a retaining wall at Lake Thoreau pool has been evaluated as needing $1+ million in repairs.

      Do you spend the money to make that repair? Or close the pool?

      • Donald

        It’s good to know this type of information trickles out the way it does — not.

        This is what the Repair & Replacement Reserve, the Capital Asset Acquisition Reserve Fund and the Capital Projects Budget are for. We have aging infrastructure, and I assume the Association builds these reserves for just these reasons.

        In my opinion, the Lake Thoreau pool is a viable asset and the community will want it to stay open.

        I assume this board will first seek member input before making such a decision. To do otherwise says they are no different than other boards of the past.

        Donald

        • John Farrell

          This Board’s decision to restore pool hours was in direct response to member input during the budget hearings.

          This Board created a working group to study the renovation and repair of the Hook Road facilities in order to gather member input before any decisions are made on spending money.

          This Board responded to excruciating amounts of member input to preserve and repair the Pony Barn at a modest expenditure.

          This Board has been open and solicitous of member input on its major capitol expenditures

          and all you do is anonymously imply, multiple times per day, that nefarious improprieties are under way.

          So far as we know you’ve never served on an RA committee or offered to run for the RA Board.

          The credibility of your anonymous, spurious imputations is diminished with every posting.

          • Donald

            John, I’ve lived in Reston since 1977. I’m a widower. I have sat on several committees and non-profit boards over the years and did consider running, but did not, having seen the efforts of the various slates. Slates make it difficult for those who just want to volunteer and make a difference by getting involved.

            This gang of 4+3 will not be good for the community. Members need to see discussions of ideas, not predetermined decisions made behind the scenes via email.

            I take it you know the decision has already been made to close the Lake Thoreau pool.

            Good to see you’ve become their spokesperson. I’m happy for you.

            Donald

          • John Farrell

            So the answer is you’ve never served RA but are ever ready to impugn the motives of those that do.

            No decision has been made on Lake Thoreau. I expect that facts are still being gathered to share with the membership.

            There are multiple slates running in this election.

            One is open and most are covert.

            You might productively spend your time discovering the other alliances that exist among the other candidates.

            I don’t have to be a spokesperson to say that this Board is far better than its predecessors at being transparent and open to input from the membership; implementing the Stoneturn recommendations; and exercising good stewardship of RA resources including cutting our assessment for the first time in RA history.

            Just watch a Board meeting where members are allowed to comment on agenda items as those matters are taken up instead of having to make the comment at the beginning of the night on a subject that won’t be taken up for hours only to be forgotten.

            The dark days of the secret Tetra fiasco are being replaced by competence and transparency.

          • Donald

            As I said, and you don’t appear to listen, I sat on several RA committees over the years. Interacted with the old RHOA teams a lot.

            John, you’re a good person, but your delivery this time is coming across a bit impetuous. Not sure why.

            It’s apparent you support this gang of 4+3, that’s your prerogative. It says everything I need to know.

            I’ll support the other candidates who are the obvious underdogs, who don’t have the backing of certain RA board members, their associates behind the scenes like yourself, and their trusted allies running.

            All the best… RA will need it.

            Donald

          • Drip

            I’ve served on my cluster board for several years, so have direct experience (many of it rather frustrating) with RA from that perspective. I would like to see this board remove the current CEO based on her role with the Tetra fiasco, among other disappointments. Solving some of the day-to-day issues would go a long way for RA regaining my trust at least.

          • 30yearsinreston

            Secret fiasco ?
            Eventhe dogs in the street knew the purchase was fixed to benefit a few

          • John Farrell

            The negotiations had been going on for more than 6 months before there was any discussion at a Board meeting. The appraisal wasn’t released to the membership until after the Board voted for the referendum. Thus, secret fiasco.

        • John Higgins

          I know board directors are hesitant to engage on this site, but maybe one who reads this thread will chime in.

          A retaining wall at $1mm is shocking (if that’s accurate). The reserve study calls for about $870,000 of work over the next 19 years (in inflated dollars) for everything at Lake Thoreau pool. The retaining wall was priced at $40,000, due to be done in a year.

          This leads me to wonder: is the proposal to do a total renovation rather than piece by piece repairs as planned or has there been discovered a pending catastrophic failure? Since that is was not planned, reserves are not adequate to pay that amount. I’d like to hear from someone who knows more about it.

  • Mike M

    Zzzz

  • Donald

    Ms. Petrine.

    In the other comment threads, it’s becoming known this RA Board is considering closing facilities, specifically the Lake Thoreau pool.

    Given these matters will likely spill over to the next board, I’d like to know your position.

    Are you in favor of closing the Lake Thoreau Pool?

    Are you in favor of closing other facilities, eliminating programs? If so, which ones come to mind?

    Thank you,

    • Spunky

      She is not going to read your open love letter unless you add

      WILL YOU MARY ME?

      • Donald

        Well Sparky… I prefer that name, it’s cuter. Ms. Petrine may also be vying for my affections, as I intend to share exactly the same with all the candidates.

        Later Chachi.

        Donald

  • SuperCoop1280

    Bitzer’s candidate statement along with this puff piece did nothing to sway me. I will NOT be supporting. I don’t care what you have done or how long you have lived here; I care about what you will do. This candidate lack’s the ability to share her vision or just does not have one.

    • Donald
    • guest

      Don’t care what she’s done? I would like to think that as a member of the community that would be your 1st priority, to check her voting record and to look at the work she’s done for Reston. You can use past information to give you a pretty good idea where she stands and what she’ll continue to do. You will also have the chance to ask her questions next week. There are plenty of people that can write a beautiful vision statement and give a wonderful speech and then DO NOTHING for the community. I think your decision not to vote for her is personal and that’s your choice/right. I encourage everyone to look at someones record and ask them questions directly before deciding on who to vote. You should not vote for someone based on a candidate statement alone. There are a lot of leaders that were put into office based on these type of statements and after they got into office did nothing to help the community. It would be great to see you at the forum next week asking her what her vision is.

      • SuperCoop1280

        That is a very fair comment and after reading my original post, I realize that particular sentence did not read out correctly. Of course, I care, as we all should, what someone has done on the board. I meant that I don’t care what they have done previously. Bitzer has talked about what she has done previously to being on the Board but has said much as to what she has done while serving on the Board.

        It is interesting that in one of the questions above in the main article about her biggest concerns for Reston, she does not make one mention of the County’s proposal on increasing the population density. Granted, not much any of us can do as it is a county issue, but the Board will have to address the new population size and how that will affect the amenities that Reston currently offers. Telling me that you want all residents to get value is great, tell me how you plan to do that. Without the last part, you are just talking and hoping no one is listening hard enough.

        I have never met Bitzer and do not know her. As a constituent, I have not seen much from her. Also, if I or anyone has to ask her what her vision is, that is a problem for the candidate. Rather, I hope at the forum, she will make it clear what her vision is and how she will better Reston. As someone running for re-election, I am surprised that I have not seen anywhere her list of accomplishments.

        “Guest”, you seem to be her biggest supporter, which your choice / right, perhaps you could enlighten us as to what she has accomplished because I have not seen it.

        • guest

          I’m unsure how you came to the conclusion that I was her biggest supporter based on my statement. I’m actually researching both candidates and plan on asking questions at the forum. I don’t know enough about Director Bitzer to speak for her or her accomplishments. My comment was in direct response to your comment and the hopes that we as a community are not voting solely based on candidate statements. I have been to numerous Board and Committee meetings and she seems to vote and speak for the “under dog” residents. I’m unsure what she has done personally in regard to development, but I can also say that about a number of the Board members that aren’t directly involved in the “fight”. I just want all residents to make informed votes. I’m also glad that I was wrong in assuming why you have chosen not to vote for her. I’m sure development is a high priority for most residents here in Reston. I’m also going to go out on a limb and say I bet that question will be asked a lot during the forums and during the Meet and Greet.

  • South Lakes

    I’ve never been a fan of Director Bitzer until this year. After attending many Board meetings and committee meetings. She is an excellent addition to PRAC and has worked very hard in every committee she’s on behalf of the members. She sealed the deal with my vote as I’ve watched her and Director Mooney during meetings over the the last year try to fight for the members, but their efforts get blocked, because of the agenda of a Board majority. As members it does not serve us to vote for candidates that have aligned themselves with an agenda. I urge people to look at the work Director Bitzer has done with PRAC and watch how she has voted on behalf of the members during the last year before you vote.

  • 30yearsinreston

    Ms. Bitzer
    What was the extent of your involvement with contract and execution of the project to ‘rehabilitate’ the Tetra shack
    Thank you in advance

  • Mike M

    ” . . . the Bob Simon vision .”

    FLUNK!

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