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.
Suzanne S. Waller (Town Center)
Address: 5400 block of Smooth Meadow Way
Occupation: Docent, Walters Art Museum
Work Experience: Corporate Buiness Management Consultant; Marketing Director for ?, Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Co-owner, Newark Gallery (Newark, DE); High School teacher; Program Director and Founder of the Oakland Mills Community Association's "Lively Arts for Little Ones" Theater program.
Volunteer Experience: Columbia Association Board of Directors, six years, Board member for Howard County Clergy for Social Justice; Board member for Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse; Board member for Howard County Arts Council; Board member for Hospice of Howard County.
Seat sought: Town Center (two-year term)
Q: What made you decide to run for re-election to the Columbia Association Board of Directors?
I have been volunteering to help build a better city since 1969. As a volunteer, I have served in major capacities to create a successful city, which intentionally welcomes all people regardless of religion, race, country of origin, economic level or sexual oreintation. I am committed to the protection of Columbia's open space, to public safety, to prudent development and oversight of Columba's development, to covenant enforcement, transperancy and 21st century communication and education through the functions and operations of the Columbia Association, Columbia's villages and residents, and collaboration for the future with Howard County government, state lawmakers, businesses, non-profit organizations and other stakeholders to facilitate cost-sharing.
Q: What qualities do you possess that would make you a good board member?
Columbia needs strong leadership as we plan for the current and future generations. I bring experience, knowledge, research capacity, as well as listening and decision-making skills to the complex issues of management, fiduciary responsibility, public safety, quality of life issues, development and the needs and wants of the people of Columbia, with a sharp focus on Town Center village.
Because the Columbia Association will have a new CEO/President, and the county will have a new executive, my experience makes me particularly suited to the ongoing business of Columbia.
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 Columbia Association will be hiring a new CEO/President in the next few weeks. As members of the CA board, we must ensure that we find the right person for the job: the person will have to have a successful level of management experience of a large organization; excellent communication skills inside and outside the organization, with residents and the press; excellent knowledge and experience of business and finance; must focus on quality standards and best practices for CA facilities, and quality CA performance for residents.
The President must have excellent rapport with CA Staff and serve as its able leader. The role of CEO/President calls for flexibility, excellent listening skills, innovation, and appropriate actions.
Over the next 10 years the Columbia association must use a good portion of its financial assets for infrastructure improvements Columbia-wide. With 23 outdoor pools, 3 indoor pools, miles of pathways, the Art Center, Skating Facilities, golf clubs, tennis courts, etc., every consideration must be given to maintenance, repair and environmentally sustainable upgrades to its HVAC systems. Additionally, the Columbia Association must make upgrades to all facilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the short term, solutions can be found to the Symphony Woods, Inner Arbor, and Merriweather Post questions through negotiations, coordination and cooperation. The outcome can be a magnificent cultural and park venue for residents and visitors alike.
Q: If elected, what do you hope to help accomplish while on the board?
SuccessfuI installation and training of new CA President and Board members.
Budget fidelity to the Columbia Association's strategic issues.
Increased effective communications with residents and other stakeholders.
Increased police presence throughout Columbia to reduce and eliminate crime.
Maximize transparency through CA websites, the press, and social media.
Use Best practices in whatever CA does whether its signing up for classes, pool water temperature, purchasing Package Plan, or facility memberships.
Utilize Village Center studies to plan for the future.
Support public transportation agenda, and safe cycling program throughout Columbia.
Test feasibility of "Bridge Columbia".
Increase collaboration with the County, Developers, arts and sports organizations, families and senior adults to meet unique needs.
Welcome new residents to Columbia with information about Columbia's history and ethos.
Increase positive collaboration amongst Board members, Staff and residents.
Q: Why should someone vote for you?
I am a highly experienced, caring and competent leader, who cares deeply about the quality of people's lives...all people's lives. My re-election will bring to the fore my understanding of your needs in combination with my ability to get important things accomplished, which has been my passion all these many years. You have my commitment of service to you and all of Columbia.