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.
Photo by Reston Association