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 Tammi Petrine, who is facing one Julie Bitzer 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?
In 1976, my family moved here from a beautiful small town in Illinois when my husband took a job with the FDIC. On previous visits to the DC area, we had discovered Reston and were SOLD immediately on its diversity, beauty and reputation as a planned community. When we moved here, Lawyers Road to Vienna was part gravel and forded Difficult Run Stream. South Lakes had not yet been developed, nor had N. Point. The Dulles tollway did not exist; Rt. #7 and Lawyers were the main access roads to the New Town. Reston Town Center (RTC) and Metro were but dreams. We shopped at the cramped Magruder’s grocery in Vienna, an iconic Washington institution with an international clientele – diversity in Technicolor! Thriving though the years is the activist, pioneering spirit of Reston, where all are welcomed and robust opinions are expected. But where we once led the way as the premiere planned community in the world, today we are fighting to keep the character of our unique community alive.
What inspired you to run for the board?
During our 42 years in Reston, I have participated in a variety of community organizations, but became intensely interested in RA when the 2013 Lake Anne land swap occurred. I was alarmed at irregularities that occurred during that process and later became involved in the debate over RA’s purchase of Tetra. Looking at both Tetra’s run-down condition and the property’s limitations, I knew instantly it was wildly overpriced. When the referendum to purchase passed by a narrow margin, I vowed to get to the bottom of how RA members were so misled. Curious others, also concerned with the radical transformation of our planned community, conducted successful campaigns to be elected to the board. When two directors resigned this year, two very active community volunteers were appointed. This allowed a strong new board majority to closely examine RA internal processes. When the recent independent Callaghan/Gallagher exposé on Tetra was presented, I knew we could not afford to backslide into a situation where special interests could manipulate RA decisions over the well-being of all. An aging community has many challenges, but our financial and ethical integrity is paramount to serving our membership well over the long term.
What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?
- Urbanization: Bob Simon’s precious 7 founding principles are disappearing as development springs up in the corridor and RTC. The vast majority of Restonians object to recent densification without accompanying infrastructure in these areas. Livability in Reston is endangered, but Fairfax Co. officials are tone deaf to community frustration. A functioning, inclusive suburban planned community is our overwhelming preference. Every day we worry ‘What is next?’
- Communication: Understanding who controls what in Reston is frustrating! Decoding the functions of organizations is tricky, as many overlap or sound similar. Even worse, in a rapidly changing Reston, public lack of awareness advantages developer interests. While RA and its community partners desperately seek to facilitate understanding, no way exists to communicate efficiently, if members do not sign up for newsletters or critical announcements. People can empower themselves by providing email addresses to organizations who care and are working hard to serve.
- Aging Community Assets: RA must be disciplined in allocating limited resources for upkeep of and accessibility to our commonly owned amenities: pools, courts, fields and trails, etc. RA’s covenants must be applied consistently to protect the value of all members’ property.
What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?
Prime goals are:
- Promote RA as the representative of 22,000+ households, each of which has a stake in influencing future development in Reston. Collectively, members represent a significant political force that is routinely ignored by Fairfax Co., as it seeks to capitalize on Reston’s fine reputation. However, unrestrained densification without limits and supporting infrastructure threaten our community’s flavor and functioning. We want to remain a welcoming, caring, diverse planned community! OUR taxes pay county bills; we want OUR judgments to determine OUR future.
- Continue the complete assessment of all RA departments, processes, programs, projects and internal controls. One assumes, as a 52 year old organization, RA has sophisticated management systems in place. Surprisingly, StoneTurn’s 2017 review proved otherwise. The current new board led by President Hebert & new treasurer Ganesan have accomplished much in a short time; I support the completion of this huge, critical job.
- Promote sound fiscal management of RA. Although RA cannot be all things to all people, we can chart a holistic analysis of Reston’s many working parts. We should identify what other entities can fill some of the voids impossible for RA to undertake. We can and should coordinate with other resources to best serve our members.
How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?
Reston is a complex puzzle and our history is not always pretty. For the past 10 years, I have attended 100’s of meetings. As a Reston Citizens Association (not RA!) board member and Co-Chair of Reston 20/20, I have learned about Fairfax County’s Small Tax District #5 (aka Reston Community Center) and RA. At the county level, I have interacted with planners or chiefs in most departments. I have been an outspoken advocate for the rights of Restonians in many issues:
- The Make Reston a Town movement (2007)
- Reston Master Planning including subsequent, continuous rapid-fire zoning amendments that change the density/character of Reston (2009 – present)
- The fight to save Reston National Golf Course (2012)
- Library system degradation (2012 – present)
- Lake Anne land swap (2013)
- Indoor Rec center at Baron Cameron Park (2013)
- Lake Anne Fellowship House redevelopment (2013)
- Tetra/Lake House (2015 – 2018)
- Tall Oaks Shopping Center (2016)
- St. John’s Wood (2016)
- Reston Town Center paid parking (2017)
- Kensington Assisted Living outside of Transit Station Area boundaries (2017 – present)
- Hidden Creek Golf Course preservation pursuant to developer purchase (2017 – present)
- Metro and gridlock (sigh…)
I have been privileged to serve as a member of Reston’s diverse, committed volunteer army and hope to use my knowledge and love of Reston to carry on in service to the residents of RA’s South Lakes District.
Photo by Reston Association