2019 Reston Association Board Election: Meet John Mooney

Voting in the 2019 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 4 through April 1. This week, we will continue posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is John Mooney, who is running unopposed for re-election to a three-year term as the North Point Representative. 

With the exception of minor formatting edits, the Q&A candidate 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?

Susan and I bought our Hampton Pointe condo in March 2016. As we two newlyweds looked for a new home, urban and typical suburban settings couldn’t satisfy her soul. We looked all over northern Virginia. She kept saying, “I think I need to live in Reston.”

We love Reston’s trees and trails and bike paths, the proximity of the wooded residential neighborhoods to Reston Town Center and it’s easy to access to the D.C. region. We fell in love with Bob Simon’s vision for Reston — an open and diverse community that strives for harmony at so many levels. We love how dedicated Restonians have preserved so much of that vision.

What inspired you to run for the board? 

Running for the board was the furthest thing from my mind when we bought our condo. It was the awareness that Simon’s vision was challenged today — and that my 27 years in local-government management could help RA face that challenge — that changed my mind.

The wake-up call was the proposed monster redevelopment of St. Johns Wood Apartments right in our neighborhood. In June 2016 we joined a small leadership team that had formed around the online petition opposing the project, which made me aware of other challenges facing Reston. Running for the Board made sense.

The reason I’m running again is to help Reston transition on some important issues, such as offering support and guidance to our wonderful new Chief Executive Officer Hank Lynch, who I believe will help us see with fresh eyes how Reston must improve. I support an evidence-based examination of how RA can best serve its members in its programs and in its covenants responsibilities — something Hank wants to pursue vigorously.

I also will ensure that development issues, whether a Planned Residential Community (PRC) ordinance amendment or individual development and re-development projects, support rather than undermine the Reston vision. I also want to see the revision of key governance documents, like the Conflict of Interest policy and Board Code of Ethics, completed.

Finally, I will help develop wise financial plans for RA so that we can provide excellent priority services at the lowest possible cost, sustainably affordable for RA and its members. This year, the focus will be on the first year of our biennial 2020-2021 budget and on our critical 2019 Reserve Study, which is meant to ensure the proper planning and financing of all of RA’s physical assets in a way consistent with the program needs of our members.

What is an example of an issue or subject that you believe the board has handled well?

I’d highlight two things. First, the way RA partnered with the Coalition for a Planned Reston (Reston Citizens Association, Reston 20/20, and Reclaim Reston) to resist the unwarranted and harmful increase in the density cap of Reston’s Planned Residential Community district.

Second, the board’s choice for our new CEO. He listens and observes very well. He’s very experienced in managing non-profits. He’s intent on helping the board improve the RA experience of our members. I believe he has the smarts, wisdom, and courage to help lead sound change.

What are the three biggest concerns facing Reston that you want to tackle?

I listed five above, all of which I intend to collaborate on. I think I can be especially helpful with development, governance and covenant issues.

How would you address those issues using your prior personal or professional experience?

My first two years of service on the RA board and this past year as RA’s secretary have already taught me a lot about all of the concerns I listed above. I was able to play key roles in the PRC debate and in revising a key governance document.

I worked 27 years in local government management, which included 17 years in Arlington County and seven as Arlington’s senior assistant county manager. We used wise capital-improvements planning and budgeting. Perhaps above all, we were doggedly faithful to Arlington’s comprehensive plan despite strong pressures for over-development. For about 10 years, the development departments reported to me and, in the process, taught me a lot. I also learned a lot about governance issues there.

I also bring my background in ethics generally and local government ethics specifically. I have a Ph.D. in philosophy with a specialization in ethics and have taught local-government ethics courses to employees of Arlington County, D.C. and Montgomery County, which has given me a broad perspective on dealing with internal governance and ethics concerns.

Finally, I bring decades of personal effort — working for the common good and building up the community at many levels — civic, religious and political. Helping communities grow and succeed has always been my greatest joy.

You can read Mooney’s election statement of candidacy here

Photo via Reston Association

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