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by RestonNow.com February 22, 2018 at 2:30 pm 11 Comments

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.

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

Photo by Reston Association

by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Meet Reston Association Candidates Next week – There are 13 candidates running for seats on RA’s Board of Directors. Check out three opportunities to meet them. [Reston Today]

Jumping Off Ship – John Jumper is retiring from the board of directors of Leidos. The company plans to move its headquarters to a future trophy tower in Reston Town Center. [Washington Business Journal]

Vote on Renaissance Centro Project Expected Tonight – The county’s Planning Commission will vote on the Renaissance Centro project tonight. The proposal calls for replacing offices on Old Reston Avenue with 20-story condos. [Reston Now]

Enjoy “Expressions of the Soul” Today — eMotion, a local dance group with dancers ranging from ages eight to 65, will performance today at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. [Reston Community Center]

by Fatimah Waseem February 20, 2018 at 9:00 am 7 Comments

Body Cameras Go Live This Week— Police officers in the Reston police district will be equipped with body cameras beginning this week. During the six-month pilot program, cameras will record anytime officers respond to a scene and during routine traffic stops. [NBC 4]

Maame Biney Looks Forward to Beijing 2022 — Over the weekend, Biney finished last in the 1,500-meter short-track speedskating heat. She also finished fourth in the quarterfinals for the 500-meter race.  The 18-year-old made history by becoming the first black woman to make the U.S. Olympic speedskating team. [The Washington Post]

Meet Reston Association Board Candidates — There are four open seats on RA’s board of directors. E-meet the 13 candidates who are running by watching their online videos. [RA]

Hiccups on the Metro Line This Morning — Metro trains did not share a track on the Blue and Silver lines this morning. Backups were caused by a report of smoke. [The Washington Post]

Photo by Twitter user @MrErrett

by Fatimah Waseem February 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm 52 Comments

Public forums to engage with the 13 candidates vying for seats on Reston Association’s Board of Directors are slated for the end of the month.

There are 11 candidates are running for three at-large board seats and two candidates are running for the South Lakes District seat in an election that could dramatically alter the makeup of the board.

The at-large candidates’ forum for candidates seeking a three-year term is set for Monday, Feb. 26 from 7-9 p.m. at RA headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The forum for South Lakes candidates and at-large candidates seeking a one-year term is set for the next day at the same time and place. A tentative rain date is set for March 1.

The breakdown of candidates is as follows:

  • Two at-large seats (three-year term): Aaron Webb, Colin Meade, Derrick Watkins, John Pinkman, Sridhar Ganesan, Travis G. Johnson and Ven Iyer
  • At-large seat (one-year term): Andy Sigle, David Ballard, John Bowman, Ray Wedell
  • South Lakes District seat (three-year term): Tammi Petrine and Julie Bitzer

The voting period for the election is March 5 through April 2. Results will be announced on April 10 at the annual members’ meeting at 7 p.m.

Stay tuned for candidate profiles on Reston Now in the coming weeks. Information on each candidate is available on RA’s website.

File photo.

by Fatimah Waseem January 31, 2018 at 11:30 am 65 Comments

Thirteen Restonians are vying for four seats on Reston Association’s Board of Directors in this year’s election.

The nine-member board is up for a major shake-up this year. Eleven candidates are running for three at-large board seats and two candidates are running for the South lakes District seat for a three-year term.

All races are contested. A breakdown of the candidates, who were certified earlier this week, is below. Seven candidates are running for two at-large seats with three-year terms:

  • Aaron Webb
  • Colin Meade
  • Derrick Watkins
  • John Pinkman
  • Sridhar Ganesan (appointed as treasurer due to board vacancy)
  • Travis G. Johnson
  • Ven Iyer

Four candidates are running for another at-large seat for a one-year term:

  • Andy Sigle
  • David Ballard
  • John Bowman (current at-large director)
  • Ray Wedell

Tammi Petrine is challenging Julie Bitzer for the South Lakes District seat.

Voting opens on March 5. Results will be announced on April 10.

The nine-member board consists of eight directors, who are elected for three-year, staggered terms by members, and one director elected by apartment owners. Four of the eight directors are district-level representatives while others are elected by the membership at-large.

Reston Now will publish candidate profiles in the coming weeks. Submitted candidate statements are available on RA’s website. Candidates are listed in alphabetized form.

For more information, email the elections committee at [email protected] or call 703-435-6530. Information is also available on RA’s website, including an elections calendar.

by Dave Emke June 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 8 Comments

Inquiries from a pair of candidates who came up short in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election did not turn up any “voting irregularities,” RA’s Elections Committee says.

At Monday’s Board Operations Committee meeting, Elections Committee chair Ed Robichaud presented findings from an analysis of the 2017 RA Board election and its administrative procedures. Among the issues addressed were requests for voter data from Ven Iyer and Arlene Krieger, the runners-up in the At-Large and North Point District races.

According to Robichaud’s report, Iyer and Krieger requested information regarding the IP addresses and time stamps for online voting on April 3, which was the last day of voting. Iyer spoke during the member-comment portion of the May 25 Board of Directors meeting to explain his concerns, which regarded the way Reston Association handles the voting process.

“Did you know that anyone can contact RA claiming that they lost their paper or email ballot, and RA will provide them with a username and password to vote?” Iyer said. “It is easy for an entity to spoof several identities to collect usernames and passwords, and then on the final day, bulk vote for a favorable outcome.”

Iyer finished second in a six-candidate race for the At-Large seat, 117 votes behind Eric Carr in a race that saw 8,534 votes counted. Krieger was defeated by John Mooney by a vote of 1,384 votes to 1,069.

The Elections Committee agreed there was a higher-than-normal voter turnout on the day in question, but attributed it to a direct email reminder to voters that was sent that day. The committee did, however, agree to request the information from Intelliscan Inc., RA’s appointed counting agent for the election.

While Intelliscan does not capture IP addresses, it was able to provide time stamps of votes cast throughout the entire voting period. The Elections Committee reviewed the data and determined:

“The April 3 volume and timing of voting is consistent with other dates when reminder emails were sent. At the conclusion of its due diligence, the Elections Committee has determined that there is no credible evidence of online voting irregularities.”

In regard to the possible loophole Iyer mentioned, the Elections Committee is asking the Board to consider an amendment to the Elections and Referenda Resolutions. The new code would read that “[b]efore issuing a replacement paper ballot or the username and password to an electronic ballot, the Assistant Secretary shall verify the identity of the Member using one or more identity verification questions including but not limited to their property’s development name, RA voting District, and/or billing and correspondence addresses on file with the Association.”

Graph via Reston Association Elections Committee

by Dave Emke April 12, 2017 at 11:30 am 4 Comments

Eric Carr, John Mooney and Victoria White were announced Tuesday at Reston Association’s annual Members’ Meeting as the winners of the three contested races in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election.

Carr won a six-person race for an At-Large seat on the board, defeating runner-up Ven Iyer by 117 votes in a race that saw 8,534 votes counted. The full breakdown of votes in the race:

“I think it’s clear from the turnout, the number of candidates and the number of votes, that this is a very impassioned community that got involved because of the changes that are happening here,” said Carr, who won a three-year term. “It’s a community that really embraced that idea that we need to take a new interest in how the organization is run, and I think that as you look at the results across the board, you see that.”

Mooney and White each won head-to-head matchups with their challengers. Mooney earned a two-year term as the North Point District representative with 1,384 votes to opponent Arlene Krieger‘s 1,069. He will serve the remaining two years of the term won in the 2016 election by Dannielle LaRosa, who stepped down.

“I’m very grateful to the voters, the members, for putting their trust in me,” Mooney said. “I hope to serve the board as best I can, and the Association as best I can. [There are] a lot of challenges, but I’m looking forward to it.”

White, meanwhile, earned a three-year team as the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District representative with 1,026 votes to opponent Syazana Durrani‘s 456.

“I’m looking forward to reminding the RA that the Hunters Woods/Dogwood District exists and reminding them that there are a lot of great community members who have probably not been getting involved because they haven’t been happy,” she said. “I’m really excited to remind the RA of that.”

David Bobzien, who was unopposed in the race for Apartment Owners’ representative, will also join the board for a three-year term.

“I’m sort of coming full circle, since I’ve lived here since 1975 and have been active in the community and was on the Planning Commission during some of the early development,” he said. “Now we’re looking at all this re-development, so I’m just looking to do my part and help out wherever I can.”

The four new board members will sit in on their first meeting tonight, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at RA Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The agenda includes the election of officers, and discussion of committees and upcoming training. CEO Cate Fulkerson will also present the board with its 2017 calendar and strategic issues for consideration in the next three months.

The new members join continuing members Julie Bitzer, Sherri Hebert, Michael Sanio, Eve Thompson and Ray Wedell on the board.

In total, 4,918 ballots were tallied for the election — a voter turnout of about 18.97 percent. The North Point District had the highest percentage (24.79) of ballots returned; Hunters Woods/Dogwood (13.74 percent) had the lowest.

by Dave Emke April 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 17 Comments

Board of Directors Election Winners Announced — David Bobzien, Eric Carr, John Mooney and Victoria White were announced Tuesday night as the winners of the Reston Association Board of Directors election. A full story will be posted later today on Reston Now. [Reston Association]

Report: Man Charged With Sexual Abuse Was Deported Felon — Media in D.C. reports that Oscar Perez Rangel, charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in Herndon, had previously been deported and was in the country illegally. [NBC Washington/WJLA]

Connolly: Hate Graffiti an Attack on Society — Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Fairfax) says of anti-Semitic vandalism at the Jewish Community Center and Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale that “an attack on one faith is an attack on all.” [Rep. Gerry Connelly/Facebook]

GMU Professor, Students to Perform in Reston — A free concert Thursday by Dr. Patricia Miller, director of vocal studies at George Mason University, and her advanced students will include performances from Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera “Iolanthe.” [Reston Community Center]

by Dave Emke April 10, 2017 at 11:30 am 5 Comments

At the annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday at Reston Association Headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive), the four new members of RA’s Board of Directors will be introduced.

In this year’s Reston Association board election, which ended April 3, 11 candidates ran for four positions. The winners of the election, to be announced Tuesday, will replace outgoing board members Ellen Graves, Dannielle LaRosa, Lucinda Shannon and Jeff Thomas.

The new members will join continuing members Julie Bitzer, Sherry Hebert, Michael Sanio, Eve Thompson and Ray Wedell on the board.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • Board President Ellen Graves will give the “State of the Association” report
  • CEO Cate Fulkerson will provide her report
  • the 2016 Reston Association Employee of the Year Award will be given out
  • members will be given time for comment

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The board will meet for its initial meeting Wednesday. On the agenda for that meeting is the election of officers, and discussion of committees and upcoming training. Fulkerson will also present the board with its 2017 calendar and strategic issues for consideration in the next three months.

That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, also at RA Headquarters.

Both meetings will also be streamed live on Reston Association’s YouTube channel.

by Dave Emke March 31, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rain, Rain Go Away — Rain that is expected to inundate the area through Friday is forecast to vacate later tonight. Saturday looks to be dry but cloudy, with sun coming back Sunday. Temperatures in the 50s and 60s will make for a nice weekend. [Capital Weather Gang]

RA Election Ends Monday — There are only a few days left to get your ballot in for the Reston Association Board of Directors election. Voting can be done online through RA’s website. Winners will be announced at the annual members’ meeting April 11. [Reston Association]

Submit a Video to Fairfax County Board — In what it says is an attempt to increase the amount of public participation in hearings, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is encouraging residents to submit pre-recorded comments via YouTube. The video-submission program will first be used for the county’s public budget hearings April 5-6. [Fairfax County]

Local Student Presents at Alabama Conference — Christine Roesch, of Reston, was one of 500 University of Alabama undergraduate students who were selected to showcase their research and creative projects during the school’s annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference earlier this week. Her project was titled “The Layout of Grass and a Trip to Starbucks Can Influence Which Way You Walk to Class.” According to her Facebook page, Roesch is a psychology major with a criminal justice minor. [University of Alabama]

by RestonNow.com March 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 1 Comment

HeidiAnne Werner/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We have posted profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is HeidiAnne Werner, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. Her opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile) and Ven Iyer (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. 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 my whole life. I attended RA summer camps, was a camp counselor and even worked at RA in the Parks & Recreation office for a couple of summers. There was no question I wanted to come back to Reston after college. As an adult, I love living in a community that has such wonderful recreation offerings. I love playing tennis, walking my dog on our great path system and relaxing at the pools in the summer. When I was in the market to finally buy property, I knew that Reston was the place I wanted to be.

What inspired you to run for the board?

I love living in Reston, but there are many things that concern me which I would complain about to others. I realized that I had to stop complaining about the things I did not like unless I was willing to get involved in the process. I went to a Board meeting and it was one where they were talking about changing the dues structure. When I did not hear any opposing viewpoints I got scared that we would all quickly see a huge increase in our dues. So I decided I wanted to get involved and offer another viewpoint.

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

  • Financial Management — We keep on seeing dues increase year after year without cuts to ancillary services. Are non-Reston-residents being charged enough to use our services? Or are residents picking up the bill for everyone?
  • Deviation from Original Purpose — Do all of the programs that Reston offers fit into the purpose of our community?
  • Development — There is no question that Reston is changing. What is Reston’s responsibility to making sure we are not overtaken by development? How are we making sure our green space and recreation is being protected?

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

As a board member I cannot promise that I will cut dues, stop development or save our pools. But I can promise that I will work hard with the board, RA staff and residents to make sure that issues are discussed and addressed; to make my case for the issues. I promise I will work to collaborate with everyone and come to the best solution. I know that might not be the most popular viewpoint, but no one board member can drive through their platform. I will do everything I can to continue to make Reston a great place to live and work.

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

My career is association management and I am in the process of studying for my CAE (Certified Association Executive) exam. Through my career, I have practical hands-on experience dealing with boards, association staff and members. Through my CAE study I am learning the theoretical best practices. But my experience is not only through my career. In my personal time, I have served on various committees and boards and, in addition, I serve on my cluster board, which gives me the experience in dealing with homeowner concerns. My experience makes me a well-rounded candidate for this position.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by RestonNow.com March 17, 2017 at 11:30 am 38 Comments

Ven Iyer/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Ven Iyer, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. 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 enjoyed living in Reston near Lake Anne for eight years.

I was born and raised in Mumbai in a middle-class family. After completing my bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering, I came to the United States to earn a master’s degree in Computer Science. After graduation, I proceeded to take a job at IBM, which allowed me to live anywhere in the country and travel across the United States to customers.

Ten years ago, I was living in Florida, and planning to start my own technology company. I was searching for a place to call home, with plenty of open space and outdoor activities. I happened upon Reston, which was featured as one of the top places to live in America. I flew into Dulles to explore the area, and I was captivated by what Reston had to offer.

After renting in Ashburn for a couple years, I bought my first home near Lake Anne in May 2009. I also went on to start my technology company. We are a small and minority-owned business, and our customers are local, state and federal government agencies. Thus, Reston has been instrumental in my personal and professional life.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Our assessments have nearly doubled in the past 15 years. This is neither warranted nor sustainable. I have spoken to retirees who are faced with the difficult decision of moving out of Reston. They lived within their means, their homes are paid off, and now the assessments are a sizable portion of their fixed income. If this does not worry you now, think again. In another 30 years, the Reston that we know now won’t be affordable by those who aren’t wealthy.

The cumulative year-over-year assessment increase percentage is almost twice that of inflation over the past 15 years. Those additional monies fuel RA’s well-documented spending habits of operating outside the scope of its mission statement. I want to stop the rapidly rising assessment bills and stop RA’s bad spending behavior.

I want to stop projects that are invasive on our neighbors and nature. I recently campaigned along with the Preserve Newport Fields coalition of residents, and together we successfully stopped the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal to demolish natural fields. Other proposals like redevelopment of St. Johns Wood apartments and Reston National Golf Course to dense residential properties puts RA in the frontline to protect the Reston way of life.

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

The biggest concerns for the Reston community are from RA’s behavior of wasteful spending, operating outside its mission scope, and simply put, strange conduct.

RA pushed for the purchase of the Tetra Lake House at more than twice its county-assessed value, made estimates on complex repairs instead of getting multiple professional estimates, drafted sloppy rent-back agreements allowing former owners to walk away and did not write an objective referendum. When the community wanted an independent investigation, RA conveniently appointed its own Tetra Review Committee, hardly making it independent, and therefore ineffective. This is evident when an effort by citizen subject-matter experts for a truly independent investigation at a pro-bono price of $1 got derailed, and another bidder’s $45,000 deliverable yielded 30 pages of process and policy philosophies devoid of individual culpability, law-breaking and conflicts of interest.

I wrote to the RA Election Committee in February asking them to collect COI disclosure statements from all candidates so that the community knows who they are voting for, to which they refused. Meanwhile, the Lake Newport Soccer Proposal is a $2.4 million spending proposal by a special interest group with tremendous access to the officers of the corporation. These proceedings are anything but normal.

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

I want to establish effective audits, member inclusion and better two-way communications to improve transparency.

Currently, RA uses it own convenient interpretation of rules, closed executive sessions, bare meeting minutes and restrictive member input in its decision-making process, rendering RA’s edicts to be unilateral and unfair to members. RA decisions in Tetra, the land swap and the soccer proposal demonstrate this pattern.

I also want to dismantle the ineffective Tetra Review Committee and salvage the independent pro bono investigation bid by citizen subject-matter experts. Who else but the citizens of Reston, completely removed from the Tetra deal and directly affected by it, will help give us closure? This time, RA must make certain that its board and legal counsel don’t stonewall and derail this effort.

I will vote to reduce operating expenses and review excess reserve funds. Projects related to safety and maintenance of existing facilities will be given priority, and all capital expenditures will be thoroughly vetted.

I will remind RA of its mission statement and make certain that it does not expand or operate outside those boundaries. I will remind RA that they operate with their members’ money and trust, and the board must always be cognizant of that.

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

I am grateful to this country; it has facilitated everything I’ve achieved, and that makes me want to give back even more.

I have already been involved in community service with Fairfax County organizations. At HART, I drove a van full of rescue animals to and from Fauquier County to Fairfax County for adoption events. At FACETS, I assisted parents and children affected by poverty in Fairfax County and mentored students towards well-paying careers in technology.

I am running for the Reston Association Board of Directors as an At-Large candidate because I believe my positions on key issues will benefit the entire Reston community. You can learn more about my positions on key issues at veniyer.com or facebook.com/voteforven. As the President of a technology company with customers in state, local and federal government, I have experience in bringing the required change while operating within a defined scope and constraints.

Finally, during my campaign, I have met some terrific Restonians with excellent insight into the issues and solutions, and many who are eager to help. I am certain that I can do my job better with their involvement and hope that the community will participate in making my service successful.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by RestonNow.com March 16, 2017 at 1:30 pm 5 Comments

Charles Dorfeuille/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Charles Dorfeuille, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. 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 the area for around 15 years, nine of which being in Reston Proper. Even when I didn’t live in Reston I would always find myself here, be it because of the Town Center or Lake Anne. My family moved here from Herndon because of the strong sense of community we saw here.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Through my involvement in the Community Engagement Advisory committee I had seen many inefficiencies in RA policy that I have not seen the board properly work on. I see many ways to improve RA, and also want to see a Reston where more of us are taking full advantage of what RA has to offer!

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

For the short term, I think that redevelopment and rezoning are my biggest concerns. If this is not properly faced, it will have negative effects to our community for decades to come.

For the longer term, though, I see the rapid assessment increases as a very serious issue we must at least try to take on in a serious way.

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

I hope to accomplish three things in my three-year term. The first is to increase the role of cluster presidents by better involving them on issues that concern them. Increasing the role of community leaders will provide much needed public input channel for communities potentially impacted by RA projects, like the Lake Newport soccer fields.

The second goal would be to revive our fight to maintain Reston’s open spaces. With the green space of Reston National still at risk, we need to make clear to all that we as a community value our open space above all else.

Lastly, I would like to see the board work on our unfair assessment system. We now have a system where the new luxury apartments are paying half what normal apartment residents pay in assessment dues. I also believe we should add a new cap that will make the assessment increases both marginal and predictable.

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

I have grown up in this community, and as a result have taken advantage of youth-oriented programs. I know how to make these programs better through trial and error. I was also an original member of the Parks & Recreation Advisory committee and the Community Engagement Advisory committee. Through these postings, I have been able to learn the processes of RA and how things are done. This experience will allow me to hit the ground running if elected to the At-Large seat this April.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED CANDIDATE PROFILES:

by RestonNow.com March 16, 2017 at 11:30 am 8 Comments

Mike Collins/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Mike Collins, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Eric Carr (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. 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?

My wife, Sarah, and our two young sons decamped from the West Coast to live closer to family and make Reston our home in 2008. I first learned about Reston while studying City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. Textbooks usually focus on Reston’s innovative architecture, layout and amenities, but they miss the genius of Bob Simon’s plan. His whole point was to bring people together to form communities and to create space for engaging nature. That’s what keeps us here.

What inspired you to run for the board?

This is actually my second time seeking a board spot. I represented the North Point District from 2010 to 2013. Although I absolutely loved serving our community this way, I did not seek re-election due to a job opportunity that did not allow for both.  

I want to return to the board because I know that the quality of life we enjoy here does not happen by accident. It takes a lot of work. Not only am I willing and able to do it, I actually enjoy it! I chose to run this year in particular because five or more directors will leave the board in the next two years and I believe my prior experience on and off the board will be particularly valuable in grappling with a strained budget and the challenges of development.

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

For Reston in general, our primary challenge is integrating new development in ways that do not overwhelm us. RA must have a very strong voice in trying to mitigate their impact on traffic, aesthetics and other quality of life issues. That’s why, as a Director, I strongly encouraged RA to hire land use counsel who can advise the Board and help advocate our community’s interests. I will also support a Design Review Board that takes a firm stance against projects that are out of character with our neighborhoods.

Second is the challenge of integrating new residents into our community. Residents of most new projects near Metro will not automatically become members of RA. That does not mean we can’t offer them that opportunity and some developers have already joined voluntarily. This can help build the sense of community that Bob Simon envisioned and help RA’s budget because new members will pay assessments without adding much cost.

The third challenge also relates to the RA budget. Recent overspending has severely constrained RA’s ability to maintain services and amenities, could preclude new programs and projects, and created upward pressure on assessments. No one wants to pay higher assessments, but I am particularly concerned on the impact on the nearly 5,000 (25 percent) households in Reston with annual incomes under $50,000.

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

I hope to help take Reston Association in a new direction, where people see a greater value for their assessment dollars, have more trust in the board decisions, and see an improved, more cohesive Reston. Specifically, I will focus on:

  1. Improving Communication — I truly believe directors must conduct direct outreach to their constituents. Personal relationships allow directors to get input beyond three minutes at a board meeting and provide them with the opportunity to explain their positions beyond press releases. I was the first RA Board member to create a newsletter for his constituents. I also attended numerous cluster meetings and convened three town halls. I got yelled at alot, but enjoyed every minute.
  2. Reforming the RA budget process — Too often, directors simply accept staff’s budget proposals without looking behind the numbers. Worse, the Board does very little to make sure that staff sticks to the budget. Directors must be willing to delve deep into the details to assure accountability. Given RA’s history of the recent Lake House project and the reconstruction of the Dogwood pool, I will not support new projects until RA can ensure delivery on-time and on-budget.  
  3. Improving our pathways — Reston’s paths were mostly designed for recreation, but they could be reoriented so we can walk or bike to places we need to go. This would not necessarily require the addition of entirely new paths. A few tweaks here and there could enhance connectivity and safety.

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

Professionally,  I was Congressional staffer for six years, including three as Outreach Director for Congressman Gerry Connolly.  I have 10 years experience as a lawyer with experience in litigation, contracts, and homeowners associations.  I have served on the board of a chapter of Habitat for Humanity and currently serve on the board of the Fellowship Square Foundation, which provides housing for 460 very low-income seniors in Reston.

Personally, my family and I have been involved in the best of what Reston offers. My sons go to FCPS schools, are involved in its Boy Scout troops, and have spent many fun summers at various RA camps. We set a summer goal — and met it — a few years back of visiting all 15 RA pools. We’ve jumped in Lake Anne at Freezin’ for Reason and sweated out many a July morning as part of the RSTA’s Lake Newport Lightning. We are living the Reston experience, and know Reston families’ concerns and priorities firsthand.

Learn more about me at www.mikelikesreston.com.

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by RestonNow.com March 15, 2017 at 2:45 pm 18 Comments

Eric Carr/RAVoting in the 2017 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run through April 3. We will be posting profiles on each of the candidates. Featured here is Eric Carr, who is facing five other candidates in the race for an At-Large seat. His opponents are Roberto Anguizola (profile), Mike Collins (profile), Charles Dorfeuille (profile), Ven Iyer (profile) and HeidiAnne Werner (profile). The six squared off in a candidate forum last week.

The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. 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 here for 19 years. I picked Reston on purpose, and bought my first home here, because it felt like a different kind of community than the other places I’d considered in Northern Virginia. I loved the trees, the trails, the sense of togetherness. I also liked that Reston embodied ideals that were missing in other communities: multicultural, worldly, progressive, innovative, and a place for people of all incomes and backgrounds.

It felt like it meant something to be a Restonian, and I thought that was something I wanted my family to experience, especially my kids. I loved that. I wanted them to be from somewhere, not just from a bland, unremarkable suburb of Washington.

What inspired you to run for the board?

Nineteen years later, it feels like a lot of what I mentioned in that first answer is gone or eroding. It used to be that, driving around NoVA, you knew when you got to Reston. It doesn’t really feel like that anymore in many respects.

It is a very good thing that we have the Metro, because it connects us to cultural, educational, and sporting events downtown, helping to further broaden the experiences of our community. However, the Metro has brought a wave of redevelopment that was never anticipated in the Reston Master Plan, and it shows. The redevelopment will bring new neighborhoods into our community, which may or may not be part of the Reston Association, which may or may not connect to our paths and use our facilities and take part in our communal activities, yet they will also be Restonians.

RA was meant to be the connective tissue that makes Reston the single community that it is. If we get redevelopment wrong, however, we’ll start to look like all those other NoVA suburbs. That would utterly destroy Bob Simon’s vision. Redevelopment is in some ways inevitable, but this is a critical time when we can still shape what it looks like and how these new people fit into our community.

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

The challenges we now face, and will face over the next 5 years, are much larger and more complex than anything we’ve had to face, and so far the RA is not up to the task. The Board doesn’t hold the RA staff to account, and the RA staff doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. Tetra, Pony Barn, bocce ball, Lake Newport Fields, indoor tennis, indoor rec center, the pool pass mess — these are just some of the recent disasters we’ve all had to endure. They all have a common theme, though: lack of a strong planning process from the outset and almost zero membership input before a decision is made. Over the past 5-7 years, the number of self-inflicted wounds has increased dramatically.

My three biggest concerns: The Board doesn’t hold the staff accountable. The staff makes decisions without Board or membership input. And neither entity has put together an honest long-term budget and planning process to anticipate changes and preempt problems.

The RA is the glue that binds all Restonians together. If we can’t do these three things, and soon, the RA will fail. It is already losing our members’ confidence. We have to turn this ship around.

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

The Board needs to do its job better. The coziness between Board and staff has led us astray, and has given us a Board and staff that do not respond to the membership. The Board needs strong leadership, needs the courage to ask challenging questions, have difficult conversations, and insist on results. Our Board of Directors represents us, the membership, and it has to insist that RA exists for the benefit of all of us. I think most people would agree that it doesn’t feel that way these past several years.

I want to put that spine into the Board, and I will lead by example. In an organization such as the RA, the Board exists to provide strategic oversight, scrutinize our finances, and ensure a holistic approach to fulfilling the membership’s needs. The Board is our voice. We elect them to speak for us. I want that to become reality once more. I will insist that the membership be involved in capital project planning and that all stakeholders are made aware of proposed changes to our community before decisions are made. I will have those difficult conversations with our staff. I will ask the uncomfortable questions.

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

I have lived here 19 years. I raised a family here. I have become involved in every aspect of what it means to be a Restonian. I have seen our community grow and change. I have the passion and deep personal attachment to Reston and my fellow Restonians.

I have served on corporate boards. I have lead teams large and small, and managed multi-million dollar budgets. I know what it means to serve on an effective board of directors, and I have done so. I have had those difficult conversations, and have reshaped large organizations around common, strategic goals.

For most of my 19 years here, I was content to pay my dues, go to work, raise my family, and enjoy the great amenities that we have here. The past several years, though, I haven’t been able to shake this nagging sense that we’ve derailed, that we’re losing our way. We are being overrun by the change, and this is the critical moment, where we can shape that change to keep the best parts of Reston. I am running because I feel compelled to help, and to apply my perspective, experience, and passion for our community, so that new families will feel about Reston the way I did 19 years ago.

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