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.
Work Experience: 15 years as a school teacher and school administrator and 24 years as an organization development consultant, trainer, coach, and facilitator for public, private, and non-profit clients.
Volunteer Experience: Spokesperson for The Coalition for Columbia's Downtown; Chair of the Board for PickUp America; Board member for the National Training Laboratories Institute for the Applied Behavioral Sciences; Board member at The Highland School; Board member at The School in Rose Valley and Board member for The Chesapeake Bay Organization Development Network.
Q: What made you decide to run for election to the Columbia Association Board of Directors?
I care passionately about Columbia, which I have known since 1968, and about Harper's Choice, my village of 10 years. I want to give back to my community.
Openness and transparency are paramount. The CA Board holds too many closed meetings. Then they often bring the issue out in a public meeting, suspend their own rules, and immediately conduct a pre-orchestrated vote of approval. This gives residents little notice to respond and provide input that would improve the final outcome. These closed meetings must stop!
CA has recently given control of our beloved Symphony Woods (along with $1.6 million of our lienpayer dollars) to a private corporation with no transparency and no accountability to CA or the residents of Columbia. We must reverse this decision!
Q: What qualities do you possess that would make you a good board member?
I have been closely studying and working to positively influence the issues facing our maturing community and CA, including Downtown development, Symphony Woods, full spectrum housing, village center decay and openness and transparency in governance. My knowledge of these issues, and the passion with which I care for them and our community, will enable me to "hit the ground running" as a CA Board member.
I am, by temperament and training, a consensus builder. I listen deeply and actively search for common ground on difficult issues. I am a quick study and am able to see the big picture behind specific ideas and proposals. I understand that Columbia is a system with multiple stakeholders, whose interests require attention and care. I am a "both/and" thinker and will see beyond the simple dichotomy of CA as either a business or a community-based organization…it is both.
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.
Openness and transparency. While CA must be run in a business-like fashion, it is, at heart, a quasi-governmental, community-based organization. It must remain accountable to the residents as it spends lien payer dollars.
Openness: The overthrow of the Symphony Woods Park plan is an excellent example. That plan was carefully and openly vetted in the community. It was passed unanimously by the Board and approved by the County. However, in a sudden vote, suspending their own rules, and with no real vetting of the new plan, the Board voted to pursue the Inner Arbor Corporation and its plan.
Transparency: While Homeowners Association law allows closed meetings under certain circumstances, it does not require such meetings. I will work to limit the number of closed meetings and to limit those meetings only to discussing the appropriately closed issues. I will also work to get minutes of closed meetings opened as soon as possible.
Q: If elected, what do you hope to help accomplish while on the board?
Return of Symphony Woods to CA control
Hold fewer closed meetings and only discuss appropriately closed issues in closed meetings
I am a passionate advocate for Columbia's values and for the residents of Columbia and of Harper's Choice. I have the combination of passionate advocacy, consensus-building skills, and tough-minded focus on facts and reason that is needed to move CA forward. We need to update Columbia's model of governance to adapt to changing times and to our status as a 50 year-old community. This will require us to make some tough choices about how we make decisions for our community.
I am an independent person who is beholden to no special interest and to no established power base. I am, however, beholden to Columbia's vision and values, to the residents of our New Town, and to openness, transparency and integrity in governance.