News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Past Is Prologue 2018: The RA Election Blog Post We Kept Trying To Put Off Writing

So, (almost) every year when RA elections roll around, we post the usual hilarious Soviet-era posters and complain about how so few of the races are contested, LOL, good Internet jokez gang, how about that boring HOA and its unhealthy fixation on red mulch?

But this year, after various bouts of unpleasantness, all of the open spots on the Reston Association Board of Directors are contested. In fact, a whopping thirteen candidates are running for the four open board seats. And, as has happened in the past when there's been a lot of interest in the RA Board, folks are joining forces to run on reality tevee-like alliances slates. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Reston Now:

This year, four candidates — Travis Johnson, Sridhar Ganesan, Tammi Petrine and John Bowman — are running on a slate, a choice they said was driven by shared positions on the Tetra purchase and a plan to increase Reston’s population density.

In mailing distributions, four other candidates — Colin Meade, Aaron Webb, Andy Sigle and current South Lakes District Director Julie Bitzer — are running as the “Alliance for a Better Reston.” In mailing distributions, they say they are committed to “implement[ing] Bob Simon’s original vision” for the community.” The alliance’s endorsements include Eve and Rick Thompson, Cheryl Terio-Simon, Bill and Betsy Keefe and others.

Because this filthy "web log" has been around so long that we remember a magical, long-ago time when you had to get to some place called "Falls Church" if you wanted to take the Metro and parking to eat at this other place called "Uno's" was free, we know all this has happened before. Apparently since then, someone decided that it was okay for sitting RA board members to endorse other candidates, which is... fine, really. Frankly, we're mostly just happy that all the tumult of late has turned out multiple people who are actually willing to do this thankless job.

One contentious issue -- the departure of RA CEO Cate Fulkerson -- has already been taken care of by the current board. Yet with that pound of flesh presumably exacted for the Original Sin of purchasing the Leaky Lake House, you'd think the discourse would shift ahead to the many real threats facing Reston, not the least of which is county officials looking at their zoning maps with cartoon-like dollar signs popping out of the empty sockets where their eyes should be while claiming it takes more than a decade to build a humble footbridge even though developers can somehow manage to slap up massive quadrilaterals in a fraction of that time. You would think.

Too much of the RA Board conversation in the past few months has been about relitigating the Tetra purchase (which, full disclosure, we supported assuming somewhere there was a competent adult who might actually understand complex terms like "rotting truss" and "fiduciary responsibility") and not enough about taking an active role in our current problems.

Of course, if you went by the tone and intensity of online comments, you'd think that turnout for this election would be staggering. In reality, it's likely to be... less impressive:

The beleaguered issue of lower voter turnout, which has hovered between 11 and 19 percent over the last four years, belies the importance of the election. RA commands an $18 million budget, funded in part through assessments from property owners.

In recent years, RA has pushed to boost voter turnout. Last year, nearly 19 percent of eligible voters participated in RA’s election for the Board of Directors – departing from a trend where turnout remained around 14 percent the three years prior.

This year, RA’s elections committee hopes to push turnout beyond 20 percent — a goal that Caren Anton, co-chair of RA’s elections committee acknowledges is a somewhat of a low standard.

If fewer than one in five households winds up voting in this election, we'll be curious about what it would take to get turnout above 20 percent in future elections. Maybe tearing down the Leaky Lake House and replacing it with a combination dog park/indoor bocce arena surrounded by paid parking and high-rise workforce housing?

But we digress. Because Restonian Is The Web Log That Cares(tm), we're presenting video from the candidate forums to date, along with this link to all 13 candidate statements (PDF).

Uniformed federal agents should have delivered ballots to your home by now if you're a luddite; online voting began yesterday and runs through April 2. We don't care about slates, or leaky roofs, or much of the other noise that's consuming people at the moment. We just want people to actually focus on what matters most right now, the end.


  1. Dear Restonian: I saw something on that "Alliance for a Better Reston" and know for a fact that it was a surprise for at least one of the named candidates. It seems that the Alliance is made up of the folks who endorsed these 4 candidates. Respected names include Kristina and Walter Alcorn, Joe and Marcia Stowers, Margaret and Shashi Gupta.

    1. Walter Alcorn denies making any endorsements.

  2. Given my blog, there's no way I can avoid voting for Dave Ballard. :-)


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