2018 Reston Association Board Election: Meet John Bowman

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 John Bowman, who is facing three other candidates for the at-large seat for a one-year term. 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?

I moved to Reston in 1985.  Visiting friends who lived in Reston then, I very much appreciated the concept of building infrastructure and community amenities, including open and natural spaces, simultaneously with residential and commercial development.  I believe this concept to be fundamental to the essence of Reston that we must strive to maintain as new and re-development occurs.

What inspired you to run for the board?

I am honored and privileged to have been selected by the board to fill an open seat in September 2017. I submit my selection was predicated on my 12+ years active participation on RA board advisory committees, for which I monitored and engaged with the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee and the Fairfax County Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force and two previous board election campaigns – Hunters Woods & At-Large.

My community engagement started in 2006 with a group of neighbors when Fairfax County attempted to redevelop the Reston South Park & Ride under the auspices of an unsolicited public-private partnership proposal without sufficient input from the community. This experience taught me that RA members needed more peer input to constructively contribute to land use development and redevelopment actions.  So, I joined the RA Transportation Advisory Committee, of which I was a member, including chair & co-chair roles, until my appointment to the board. I currently serve as the board liaison to the Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee.

My successful campaign will bring this experience to my continued service on the board.

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

Density, Density, Density …

When addressing RA member concerns, it is important to distinguish RA issues from greater Reston issues.  RA has no standing in Reston Town Center and the former Reston Center for Industry & Government (RCIG) – the properties roughly between Sunset Hills Dr. & Sunrise Valley Dr.  – we can “reason, cajol and call out” the county and developers for issues in those areas.

However, without any doubt, the single most important issue facing greater Reston today is the adverse impact of proposed and future land use development and re-development on the quality of life of RA members – particularly infrastructure and parks and open spaces, including golf courses.

Within the RA house, we must insist upon board and staff discipline to attain continual review of how we spend RA member’s assessment dollars.  Based upon the Tetra/Lake House experience, the current board has implemented a considerable number of internal controls to ensure proper due diligence when committing RA funds to projects.  I support continued maturing and application of these internal controls – particularly to demand complete, sufficient, and appropriate business case analysis of all proposed activities requesting RA funds in order to avert another Tetra.

Additionally, we must address those aspects of RA member service experience that detract from our member interaction.  Too often, member dissatisfaction derives from a lack of common sense application of RA guidelines.  It is time for RA to enforce the “spirit of the law” vs. literal reading of our resolutions, etc.  Many of our resolutions are written in a manner to address specific situations, thus rendering them less useful to both staff and members when seeking general guidance. We need to revisit RA documents that are written in a manner that appears to prohibit common sense interpretations.

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

My primary goals are RA fiscal discipline and maintaining the Reston sense of “place” within planned redevelopment. I feel an obligation to RA members to continue the direction that the current board has taken to unabashedly address internal financial discipline; continue our firm stance against negative impacts of excessive density; and require sound decision making by the board on careful study of matters being consider.

A staunch advocate for disciplined stewardship of our assessment dollars. I will support the increased fiscal discipline demonstrated by the current board, as evidenced by 1) implementing the Tetra/Lake House issue remediations delineated by the StoneTurn Group’s report; and 2) focusing on long range fiscal planning. Assessment increases should be enacted only in the most extreme circumstances.

I support this Board’s focus to bring more value to the members. Program funding initiatives must have valid business cases, including member and community benefits to serve a critical mass of RA members. This direction applies common sense and rationality to board actions, especially when determining use of the member’s assessment dollars.  We need to achieve and communicate the value proposition of RA membership to all members, including those who no longer, or do not yet, use RA programs or facilities.

Perhaps the most challenging, I advocate for standing firm with the county to control negative impacts of excessive density by applying pressure to the principals in land use and development issues. Pressing the County (we do have 60K+ residents 😊) to require compliance from property owners & developers with the guidelines in the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan – as described in Reston Master Plan – will be a positive force to preserve the Reston quality of life and sense of place.

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

I bring to RA 20+ years of progressively responsible corporate management, academic and association experience focused on business operations emphasizing financial and technology metrics to drive positive business outcomes. My relevant experience includes:

  • RA Board of Directors (9/2017 – Present)
  • Multiple RA Board Advisory Committees since 2006 – including Transportation Advisory Committee & Multimodal Transportation Advisory Committee (Co-Chair/Chair of both)
  • 2008 RA Board Candidate (Hunters Woods); 2016 RA Board Candidate (At-Large)
  • Past member Reston Citizens Association Board of Directors, founding Reston 2020 member
  • West Virginia University (WVU) College of Creative Arts, Board of Visitors (2007-Present)
  • WVU Music Alumni Association, Board of Directors (2005-Present)
  • PMI Project Management Professional
  • Certified Information System Security Professional
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certified
  • Doctor of Musical Arts, Catholic University
  • Master of Science (Information Systems) (GMU)
  • Private Pilot – Instrument Rated

My experience in the US Navy, in commercial consulting, government contracting, and corporate management combined with service on multiple boards and advisory groups for academia and associations positions me well to serve the RA by having learned the absolute need to “ask the next obvious question”, and to keeping asking until the ability to execute an idea that “sounds great” is actually validated or debunked.  

The current challenges to the RA Board from the membership for crisper and forward-looking land use actions are best met with disciplined action and input from the standing advisory committees.  I bring this discipline from my organizational and financial experience managing delivery elements of large business organizations.

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

Photo by Reston Association

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