Job interviews are hard enough. But when you're head of one earth-toned planned real estate development and you want to become head of another earth-toned planned real estate development, sometimes you have to do them in public. So Reston Association CEO Milton Matthews, a finalist to head up Maryland's oddly satanic anti-Reston, recently found out.
All three finalists hoping to become the next Columbia Association president said yesterday that they're prepared for the job after decades of community management experience, and they vowed to operate with transparency and strive for the best possible downtown redevelopment plan.You mean no one mentioned Satan Wood Drive? Or the lack of an Orange Julius stand in the heart and soul of that august planned community -- its awesome, Christmas-hating shopping mall? Tsk. They should have done their homework.
About 100 residents had their first chance at the public forum to see and hear the remaining contenders in a 20-month process that began with more than 500 candidates. But no one in the crowd got to speak to them directly.
Milton Matthews, CEO of the Reston Association; Phil Nelson, city manager of Troy, Mich.; and Rob Goldman, 19-year vice president of CA for sport and fitness, were escorted one at a time to a stage at the Long Reach Village community center. Each made a few opening remarks and then answered the same 10 questions during the 90-minute session. Each then left the building.
The queries ranged from inside issues like staff bonuses and golf course operations to the candidates' views on environmental sustainability and the General Growth Properties redevelopment plan for downtown Columbia. None said they love or hate the plan, and each vowed to work with the developer and the county to achieve the best result. Asked what CA's most serious problem is, none of the three identified one.
Matthews, 54, a native of Virginia's Eastern Shore, said he has been reading about Columbia since studying urban planning in college. He drew heavily on his experience guiding the Reston, Va., homeowners association for the past four years.Yeah, but we'll soon have a bitchin' new RA Headquarters building at which to pick up our pool passes. That is, unless Matthews has worked out a deal to rip it off its foundations and have it trucked to the parking lot of the Columbia Mall if he gets the job.
Robin Smyers, board chairman of the Reston Association, said in a telephone interview that she has "the utmost respect and regard" for Matthews and his professionalism.
"I think the world of him," she said. Reston is smaller than Columbia, with about 60,000 residents to Columbia's nearly 100,000. The Reston homeowners association's annual budget is about one-fifth of CA's roughly $60 million.