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Columbia Election Candidate: Robert Fontaine

This is one in a series of submitted candidate profiles for the Columbia Association Elections. 

The Columbia Association will hold elections on Saturday, April 26. During the elections, Columbia residents who pay the Columbia Association assessed fee can vote in their respective village for their village's representative to the 10-member Columbia Council, which becomes the 10-member Board of Directors.

Each village hosts its own election. This year, there are only three contested races for the 10-member board. Those races are in Harper's Choice, Hickory Ridge and Town Center.

Each candidate was submitted the same list of questions and request for information. The responses that follow were submitted by each of the candidates.

Bob Fontaine (Harper's Choice)

Age: 60

Address 10900 block of Eight Bells Lane

Occupation: Assistant Attorney General/Principal Counsel for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission & Agency and the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission

Work Experience: Maryland Attorney General's Office (representing Lottery since 2008, Dept. of Juvenile Services from 1987-2008; Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene from 1984-1987), taught elementary school and was an outreach case manager and direct care worker for individuals with developmental disabilities prior to law school

Volunteer Experience: Board member, Harper's Choice Village Board of Directors; Alternative Dispute Resolution volunteer for the District Court of Maryland for Howard County; host for 2014 Columbia Homes Tour (benefits Rebuilding Together Howard County); member of American Bar Association; Maryland Bar Association; Howard County Bar Association; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Bar Association of Maryland (immediate past president); Howard County Board of Education's Community Advisory Council; religious educator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia and citizen representative on the Howard County Human Rights Advisory Committee.

Seat sought: Harper's Choice (two-year term)

Q: What made you decide to run for election, or re-election, to the Columbia Association Board of Directors?

I have more time for volunteer activities now than I did previously, and therefore can commit to the responsibilities of this position. As a member of the Harper's Choice Village Board, I have been working with current village representative to the CA Board, Cindy Coyle, to effect progress in Columbia and for Harper's Choice. I can use the experience, knowledge and skills developed while on the HCVB and bring them to the CA Board.

Q: What qualities do you possess that would make you a good board member?

As an experienced attorney, I analyze issues and work collaboratively to build consensus. As counsel to Maryland state commissions, I am intimately familiar with the Maryland Open Meetings Act, which will be useful in ensuring that the CA Board operates in a transparent fashion. I am thoughtful and even-tempered. I recognize that people may have opposing opinions on issues, but believe that civil discourse should be paramount.

Q: Identify, in your mind, the two most pressing issues facing the Columbia Association right now? Explain why you chose these and expound on possible solutions.

The biggest challenges would seem to be the new development in Downtown Columbia and the rejuvenation of aging infrastructure in older villages. As Columbia plans for its next 50 years, this is a time of enormous opportunity. We need to listen to the big ideas for the future, while ensuring that all such plans are financially sustainable.

Q: If elected, what do you hope to help accomplish while on the board?

Restore and maintain functionality and trust. Provide vision and direction to CA as we plan for the future.

Q: Why should someone vote for you?

I am a reasonable, efficient, positive, and forward-thinking leader. I am not focused on a single issue nor am I running to move any specific agenda item forward.

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