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Village elections give Columbia residents a chance to be heard [Editorial]

Columbia village elections conclude this weekend and several issues are at stake, especially the aging infrastructure in our "modern" community. At nearly the half-century point, the lady remains robust, if a little creaky here and there. But perhaps the most significant decision for voters will come in two villages, Long Reach and Dorsey's Search, where the ballots will help determine the makeup of the Columbia Association, the governing board that oversees this one-of-a-kind city.

CA is a hybrid organization that functions, among other things, as a property management agency and a homeowners association. In a way, it is the entity entrusted to carry forward the vision of James Rouse, who founded Columbia in the 1960s. It is also, undeniably, a bureaucracy with a paid, full-time staff of about 260 that wields considerable influence. The men and women who sit on the CA board of directors make decisions affecting things as small as a tot lot and as big as downtown development.

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A key discussion point, and a frequent source of criticism of CA, is transparency. Functioning as both a business and an elected body, CA is frequently in a tug-o-war between those who want to guard proprietary rights and those who want to pull back the curtain. We have seen this struggle in the often-heated debates over the Inner Arbor plan and ethics complaints lodged against CA member Alan Klein.

Our endorsement for village CA representative in Dorsey's search is Dan Woodruff. A resident of Columbia since 2003, he has served on the village board since 2005 and was a member of the CA Budget Advisory Committee. In Long Reach, we support Janet Evans. A professional in landscape engineering with several ideas on improving village amenities, she is also a strong proponent of transparency.

Those who live here know it is an uncommon community. It did not get that way by accident. Columbia needs a strong CA to uphold its founding vision and it can only derive that strength from the trust of Columbia's residents. The CA can earn that trust by listening to citizens. And, citizens can deliver that empowerment by turning out to vote.

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