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RA Elections: We Can Do Better

Knueven and Farrell agree.

Restonians may not appreciate the extent to which Reston Association Board elections are controlled by RA staff.

Last year’s race for an At-Large seat on the RA Board of Directors exposed me to a number of disincentives placed on the volunteer candidates by the RA staff that would discourage the most altruistically motivated soul. Donna Rostant was prohibited from using her professionally taken photograph.The rest of us had our pictures chosen for us. Every candidate ought to have the right to present the face they want to the membership; not the RA staff’s choice.

Further, staff refused to disclose to the candidates the voting habits of the membership, i. e., who voted in past RA elections. When the typical turnout in these races is only 10-12 percent, it’s disrespectful of volunteer candidates’ time to make them go door-to-door when eight or nine out of 10 doors that we knocked on didn’t bother voting. That information is public in County, State and Federal elections and there is absolutely no just cause to keep it from RA Board candidates.

Another of the staff’s abuses caused quite a problem for my friend, RA president Ken Knueven, and me. Staff refuses to disclose who has filed to run. Again, that information is public in County, State and Federal elections and there is absolutely no just cause to keep it from RA Board candidates. The result of this overcontrol by RA staff is that both of us, unbeknownst to the other, filed to run for the same seat.

We met last night to commiserate over this silly RA staff practice and the awkward position it put both of us in.

Ken and I agree on so many things:

We agree that the recent experience on the approval of the 23-story building to replace the old “Reston Times” building, where the P&Z rubber-stamped its approval without a commitment for recreational proffers being paid to RA and the RA Board opposed that building, showed that the P&Z Committee is a broken process and no longer represents the collective wisdom of Restonians.

Most Restonians may not know that the P&Z Committee is not part of RA, but used to be part of RCA. Its membership is unelected and is accountable to no elected officials. Ken and I both believe that references to the P&Z need to be removed from the RA website so that Restonians are no longer confused about who speaks for RA members in land use matters. Going forward, RA’s Board needs to be the singular voice on land use matters in Reston as is the practice in the rest of Fairfax County.

Ken and I also agree that the Phase I Reston Master Plan must include language calling for the inclusion of indoor tennis courts and an indoor 50-meter pool, paid for with developer proffers, in the station areas of Wiehle and RTC.

We also believe that it is essential the Phase I Reston Master Plan direct the $1,700 per residential dwelling recreational proffer be paid to RA for capital recreational purposes and that commercial developers must also pay a $1.50 per square foot toward that end.

Ken and I believe that Fairfax County and the Park Authority have been negligent in providing recreational facilities within RA’s boundaries and, that to redress those past shortcomings, the artificial turf fields at South Lakes High School ought to be fully funded by FCPS and FCPA alone.

We also believe that the lights on Brown’s Chapel Field #2, the only 90-foot baseball field owned by RA, should be turned on not later than September 2, 2014!

We also agree that the impending turnover at the RA’s CEO position is an opportunity to invigorate a desultory RA staff for the 21st Century.  We both agree that I have much to contribute in that search process.

Those reading this blog by now should be asking, “If you two agree on so much, why are you both running?” That’s just it. I’m not. I sent in my withdrawal within an hour after my dinner with Ken.

As I told Ken, unlike others, I never run for office to add another line on my resume. I was running to get all of the foregoing accomplished and more. With Ken’s commitment to achieving those same ends, I can devote my time to other endeavors, like protecting all of our right to vote.

Good Luck, Ken. I have no doubt you can get most of the foregoing done before the Fourth of July 2013. If not, there’s always next year.

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You don't need to see his identification February 07, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Good job, guys. Keep fighting the good fight - and even better - not against one another. A great example. Thanks!
Terry Maynard February 07, 2013 at 09:42 PM
John--Sorry to hear that you have withdrawn, but not much point in candidates with apparently identical views running against each other. I agree that the Reston P&Z Committee is broken despite recent steps to re-invigorate it by having reps from outside the panel select new members, including reps from RA and RCA. It used to choose its own members. The problem has been and still is, in my view, is that the committee has limited itself to a highly legalistic interpretation of applicants' proposals. In recent years, it has not effectively weighed the many "softer" aspects of consistency with the Reston vision (old or new) re sustainability, architectural excellence, diversity, etc. Absent this kind of consideration, it is not needed since the FC Planning Commission clearly checks the zoning boxes. We will need much stronger community development oversight as Reston urbanizes. I'm also glad to hear you and Ken share the same important view that an active RA role in Reston's urbanization should be reflected in the new Reston Master Plan. As the RCA rep to the task force, I would welcome RA's more active role there in helping to protect and advance the interests of Reston's 60,000 residents. We're writing the Phase 1 report now and we need RA's input now. I'd welcome the help. And don't go away, John, there may be a chance to run against someone who is less agreeable than Ken next year!
Don M. Boileau February 08, 2013 at 02:54 PM
Question: Why can't the Board of Directors set the policy on elections about roles, pictures, posting of candidates at the time of filing? Would seem to me a fairly simple motion.
John Farrell February 08, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Excellent question The staff writes the policies and the Elections Committee who are all volunteers with busy lives and little experience as candidates for any public office rubber stamps them. The RA Board, also made up of volunteers, is then presented that year's election policies "recommended by that Committee" at the last minute, during the holiday season, just before the December "Call for Candidates," on a crowded agenda with no time for reflection or debate and they give the proposals the bums rush. The problem is compounded by the understandable rule that no one serving on the Election Committee can run for the Board. Thus, the people who have the most experience, if they ever hope to run again, cannot serve. These rules ought to be reviewed by the RA Board in September which means the Election Committee ought to be making their recommendations in July. That would be just 3 months after the end of the campaign when memories are fresh. Hope springs eternal.
Hostage Farmer February 10, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Recently Delegate Ken Plum took a stand AGAINST the small family farmer in Virginia. We are small family farmers and struggle to stay alive in Virginia becuase of over regulation and government boots on our necks. We can not tolerate nor support any politican that spits in the face of property rights and the small family farmer's struggles in Virginia. As a result of this politican's recent actions, he has lost the support of struggling small farmers across Virginia. Ken Plum refers to struggling farmers being starved off the land that drove over 5 hours with their children (they live in fear the government will take away thier homes nad farms) to be in Richmond so their voice might be heard as "late night comedy shows". Ken Plum needs to look in the eyes of the poor children that go to sleep at night in fear because of government over regulation and abuse of authority on their small family farms that threaten to destroy the small family farmer in Virginia. This is REAL FEAR.. More like terror. Read more about Ken Plum calling poor family farmers and children "late night comedy". Shame on Ken Plum! http://fauquierfreecitizen.com/ken-plum-fear-mongers-on-fear-mongering/

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