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Preference Poll Candidate, RCC Spar Over Canoe as Campaign Prop

Candidate Koozmin adamant boat will help his candidacy.

On Wednesday evening, the six candidates in the Reston Community Center's 2011 Preference Poll will take to the CentreStage to outline what they would bring to the Board of Governors.

Candidate Rod Koozmin wants to bring a canoe on stage, and is miffed that executive director Leila Gordon has told him "no."

Koozmin says he wants to bring the boat because he hand made it in RCC's woodshop. The woodshop - expanding hours, availability and programming- is the central focus of Koozmin's campaign.

"I don't think bringing your canoe will work," Gordon wrote to Koozmin in an email obtained by Patch. "We have another candidate who builds things in the shop, and if you bring your canoe he should be able to bring his work, so I think it is best to just restrict this to the physical presence of the candidates."

 Koozmin's response to Gordon: "The campaign and the forum is not about you. It's about the Reston Community Center and the citizens of  Reston. One of the reasons I am running for the board is because I am not happy about how one person, you, can arbitrarily decide on everything that goes on in the RCC. The Reston Community Center is for everyone in the fifth tax district."

Gordon says the restriction on what candidates may bring onstage with them is based upon the logistical considerations of providing a forum for six candidates and the moderator of the forum in the CenterStage.  A canoe would block aisles and could infringe on other candidate's rights, she said.

'I don't have anything personally against him or his hobby," said Gordon. "The unfortunate reality is that there is no practical way to incorporate a full-size canoe in a discussion forum about the RCC and its role in the community that would be fair to the other five candidates taking part."

Koozmin, who operates a knife sharpening business in Reston and has in the past run for a seat on the Reston Association Board of Directors, said in his most recent email to Gordon he still does not agree and is likely to bring the canoe anyway.

"It will not block aisles but will sit with me in front of me on the table (crosswise) just as others might  have papers or whatever," he wrote.

"I have had the feeling that my canoe is as important and appropriate to me in explaining my candidacy and goals as papers might be to others  and may want it with me during the forum. I urge you to ask your staff to be willing and lend a hand just by holding the doors open as I bring in my canoe (if I do decide to bring it in)."

Rod's Sharpening Service September 20, 2011 at 03:39 AM
I had indeed thought about bringing my canoe as an example of what can be done at the Reston Community Center woodshop if we open it’s doors. Unfortunately most of the time the doors to the woodshop are closed to the citizens. It’s my purpose during this campaign to try to focus on the woodshop and it’s potential as a recreation which I believe have been underutilized. And in improving this one thing, improve the whole RCC. In the past I had tried to interest the RCC staff and board in allowing me to teach a course in wood strip canoe building which had been done all over the world. I had built mind from a old fence the neighbor was discarding. People had come up to me and with admiration said, “Wow that’s a beautiful boat.” I’ve always tried to explain how relatively easy to learn wood strip boatbuilding and well suited it is for armature construction. I had studied boatbuilding in my younger years at the Landing I had closed my business and become a home husband in a effort to spend more time with our daughter who had been going to county before school and after school programs. I thought that this would be a great recreation fitting into Robert Simon’s vision of a community where you can live work and have recreation in. I wanted to teach a course for youths who I could imagine some being highly interested in such a project. Especially since the schools had backed away from teaching woodworking and youth has no opportunity to learn hand skills.
Rod's Sharpening Service September 20, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I found no opportunity to present ideas to Reston Community Center. It is set up as a institution where they generate programs but have no facilities to interact with the public whom they serve as to citizen generated ideas. The RCC staff work in closed off cubbyholes off limits to the public. I had tried over the years since to interest RCC in this project in the woodshop but only found a locked door. A locked door in the minds of RCC and a locked door to the woodshop which remains mostly unused. And so I thought I had tried everything else. Maybe if I actually brought my canoe in I could convince them of this as a project. Maybe as I am a candidate for the board emphasizing the woodshop that this would be a good time. The boat symbolizes my interest in particiopating at RCC. And so when Leila contacted us regarding the upcoming candidates forum I thought I should ask her.. I still think it should be up to the candidates to decide what they want to bring the forum. –Rod Koozmin

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