Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will continue posting profiles on each of the candidates.
Featured here is Sridhar Ganesan, who is facing six other candidates for two at-large seats for a three-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 have lived in Reston for over 19 years. After an international finance and business degree from Columbia University, I was working out of New Jersey for Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, when I traveled to Reston in 1997 for a conference. My wife and I found this small new town to be charming. After numerous trips to Reston over a year, we relocated here in 1998.
What brought me here was work, but what made me choose Reston from all of the neighboring towns was a combination of things:
The small town feel, lakes, open space, walkability, very little density, proximity to an airport and, believe it or not, I liked Reston for TRAFFIC. Yes, even with fewer lanes on Reston Parkway and a very incomplete Fairfax County Parkway that did not run all along Reston, traffic flow was just fine then.
Reston seemed like a great place to drop down roots, chase my version of the American dream and raise a family. I am exactly where I want to be.
What inspired you to run for the board?
Seven years ago, I decided to leverage my varied and global experience for public service in civic issues and Education. I served on the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) budget taskforce in 2015 that identified potential cuts of up to $100 million to deal with expected funding shortfalls.
In 2012, I joined the Reston Citizens Association (RCA) board and served as its President from 2014 to 2017. During that time, we opposed higher Planned Residential Community (PRC) density; the opening up of Reston National Golf Course for development; Town Center paid parking; and any re-development that would force low-income seniors out of Lake Anne Fellowship House.
Given its central role, we also focused on Reston Association (RA) and its serious missteps on the acquisition and renovation of the Tetra/Lakehouse property. These experiences led me to the conclusion that the best place to reform RA was from within.
I now serve as Treasurer of Reston Association (RA) and am an At-Large Director. With strong support from the current RA Board, I led the establishment of many operational reforms at RA, since my appointment in June 2017. I want to finish what I started at RA, so I am running for a new 3-year At-Large Term to reinforce the reforms to make RA work better for its members.
What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?
Density: The issue of greatest importance to Reston is the County proposed increase in density from 13 to 16 persons per acre in Reston’s PRC district. Combined with the growth in the Transit Station Areas (TSA), an increase in the PRC population from the zoned limit of about 74,000 to 100,000 seriously threatens the future of Reston we know today. Property developers recently expressed concerns about softness in the Reston market, so where is the demand and why the rush? Reston’s current transportation and other infrastructure cannot support such growth. The public response has been a loud “NO” to higher density. RA’s role should be collaborative with its members and other community organizations to shape Reston’s destiny.
RA Operations, Processes, Controls: A second major issue is completion of the restructuring of RA operations started by the current Board majority and assuring that these changes become ingrained in RA. There were some serious problems that the Tetra/Lake House property acquisition, renovation and planning showed. They include:
- The process of decision-making, the high purchase price, the questionable appraisal, the lack of negotiation, and inadequacy of the referendum materials.
- The lack of controls, which led to serious cost overruns.
Poor use planning for the property without fiscal responsibility or careful analysis.
- Many improvements have been made during 2017, but continued focus on corrective action is necessary to make RA prudent, cost-effective and responsive to members.
What should RA be? Third concern is to work with sports groups, members, clusters and other groups to do some soul-searching on RA’s strategic vision. Many RA assets are aging. Replacing/updating them will cost more than the Reserve Study estimates. Bumper sticker slogans such as “Wasteful Spending” are easy, but even hard work can only yield so much cost reduction without crippling services and RA operations, so that is not the answer to everything. RA cannot be all things to all people, so it is time for an honest discussion about what RA should be and what it should deliver to its members.
What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?
I want to continue the reforms instituted by the current Board and continue the positive change. I am leading the establishment and implementation of internal controls, oversight of policies and procedures to avoid a Tetra/Lake House repeat. I want to achieve the following for more effective functioning of RA for the benefit of members:
- Complete a comprehensive analysis of recreational facilities (pools, ball-fields, tennis courts) to inform the public about usage/demand and member benefit, supply, revenues, expenses and cost to update or replace.
- Comprehensive analysis and update of the Reserve Study for maintaining, replacing and updating aging RA assets.
- Reinforce rigor in planning new investments, improvements to amenities, validate cost estimates, purchasing/contracting procedures, and ensure major projects and programs are implemented on schedule and within budget.
- Make RA a leader in voicing/advocating for the community’s needs on issues like PRC Density and work in collaboration with members and community organizations.
- Establish a process and system to seek out quantifiable member feedback on major issues and policies.
- Continue to drive more transparency through open meetings, public reporting and disclosure, and to strengthen Board oversight of on-going operations.
- Establish a routine process for review of RA rules and regulations for flexibility and materiality.
How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?
I bring 20+ years of operational, financial and executive leadership experience, including as Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded company that I steered to a NASDAQ initial public offering.
My experience spans media, satellites, telecommunications, technology and education in the US and international markets.
I am an entrepreneur who has started-up several new ventures around the world and an executive who has helped restructure companies and businesses. My nature is to roll up my sleeves, dive into details, fix issues and get things done.
I have dedicated several hundred hours to digging into RA and it’s restructuring during my eight months as a very hands-on Treasurer and Director. I have demonstrated the vision, skillsets and passion necessary for public service. Some of the accomplishments are:
- Achieved reduction in assessments; 1st time ever in RA’s history.
- Shaped budget, led in-depth budget sessions, provided more public input opportunities than before.
- Moved RA towards rigorous, analytical approach for programs and capital projects.
- Driving the establishment of solid decision-making processes, internal controls, policies and procedures to avoid a repeat of Tetra/Lake House disaster.
- Providing strong, diligent review of the adequacy of contracts and their performance.
- Reconstituted, reformulated fiscal committee for greater engagement and Board support.
I believe that my background, commitment to public service, time and effort I have put into RA and the results achieved will help me as a board member over the next years.
Photo by Reston Association