Friday, March 22, 2013

Five Contested Seats - Columbia Village Elections April 20, 2013

There will be five contested elections across Columbia for seats on the Columbia Council, which also sits as the Board of the Directors for the Columbia Association.  Oakland Mills, Wilde Lake, Long Reach, King's Contrivance (see below) and River Hill.

The following CA Board Members are either uncontested or did not have an election this year: Gregg Schwind (Hickory Ridge), Andy Stack (Owen Brown), Suzanne Waller (Town Center), Cynthia Coyle (Harper's Choice), and yours truly (Dorsey's Search).  I was surprised to learn that no one filed a candidate petition in Dorsey's Search, but am more than happy to direct my energies to the other five races.  I am also excited to serve in this position for another two years.  I truly believe I have grown more in the past two years than the previous five put together.  It is a hard job that pushes me to my limits, but as I've said multiple times in the past, the opportunity to engage the most difficult problems our community is facing, and sometimes solve them, is invigorating.

If your math skills were up for the test this morning, you probably noticed that this is a majority shifting election.  If the proponents of the Inner Arbor Plan are swept (impossible - see below), you are looking at 30 years of paths, a fountain, and a lot of empty park benches.  But that's not how I see this election.  There is an opportunity here to move Columbia forward, empower those who have already served, and infuse new thoughts, concerns, and ideas into an often stagnant Board.

Here's how the elections look for now:

Oakland Mills (Alex Hekimian v. Julia Jackson McCready)

I had no intention of weighing in against any of the Board members I currently serve with until I saw Alex's e-mail soliciting someone to run against Regina Clay in Wilde Lake.  From my perspective, that was unprofessional at best, and...well...just plain slimey.

Whether or not Julia had planned to run prior to this incident, I can't tell you how happy I am that she is.  Julia not only brings excitement and enthusiasm to the position, but also a much needed empathy and experience-base for young families and teachers.  This is the election that could completely change the Columbia Association for the better in a matter of days.

Wilde Lake (Regina Clay v. Nancy McCord)

Regina Clay has been a breath of fresh air over the past year.  We have shared frustrations and bafflement at the way certain things are done in the Board Room, with Regina rolling up her sleeves and jumping into the fray whenever necessary to stand up for what's right.  You will recall that Regina was the one who called the question on February 14, halting an attempted "oh I have questions" filibuster that may still have the Inner Arbor Plan tabled and fading away.

I don't know Ms. McCord.  I am sure she is a very nice person, who is dedicated to her community.  I just don't want to lose a strong leader like Regina on the CA Board.  We can't afford to. 

Long Reach (Ed Coleman v. Russ Swatek)

I think the importance of this election speaks for itself, but I want to add a few notes about Ed.  We don't always agree on things, but when he is on the other side of a vote, I normally presume I'm wrong.  Ed is one of the most considerate, deliberate, deep-thinking individuals I have had the pleasure to serve with.  I would never want to play him in chess.  He is always looking at a problem 20 years into the future, which is absolutely critical for this organization at this point in time.  I hope, and expect, that if Ed is re-elected, he will serve as either Chair or Vice-Chair of the Board.

I don't have much to say about Russ.  I know what he's against, but have rarely heard what he is "for".  I can't see Long Reach choosing that future for itself, but know it will take a lot of people to make sure that doesn't happen.

King's Contrivance (Brian Dunn v. ______)

In a surprise announcement yesterday, King's Contrivance Board Representative and Board Chair Shari Zaret announced to the Board that she would not be seeking re-election.  I won't go into the reasons here, but I will say up front that Shari will be missed.  She was a quiet leader who always knew the exact time to be firm (I attribute that to years as a teacher).  Shari always had an encouraging word when we were struggling and knew how to find the positives even when everything looked dark.  Shari is my friend and I will miss seeing her every other Thursday.

Out of disappointment came joy.  I hope I am not stealing his thunder, but my friend Brian Dunn has filed a candidate petition for King's Contrivance.  The "Next Generation of Columbia" has arrived.  Anyone who knows Brian has to be excited about his candidacy.  He is a smart, passionate, articulate leader who loves Columbia dearly.

UPDATE:  As Brian notes in the comments below, his race is uncontested.  Not only is that the best news I've heard all day, but it locks in at least a 5-5 tie vote for the Inner Arbor Plan!

I do not know the name of his opponent, but have been informed that they oppose the Inner Arbor Plan and have been recruited by Russ and Alex to run.

River Hill (Michael Cornell v. Clayborne Chavers)
Captain, my captain.  My first vote on the CA Board was to elect Michael Cornell as Chair.  He had to deal with a whipper-snapper who thought he could change things in a matter of months and I had to deal with being told "wait, wait, stop."  I appreciated Michael's leadership and mentor-ship over that first year.  He is a fun guy to work with.  When Michael sees an idea he likes, you are best suited to get out of the way.  That kind of passion is just fun to be around.  Michael has provided a knowledge base of green initiatives and green technology that have guided the organization through unfamiliar territory.  He has also been a strong advocate of "getting things done" in Symphony Woods and throughout Columbia.

Yet again, I do not know the name of his opponent.  I have been told by multiple people that Russ Swatek picked up the candidate petition for his challenger, which says more than anything I could describe here. 

So that's how the elections stand.  I'm all in.  If we lose, my colleagues will deal with the disappointment for a week, but Columbia will have to endure the consequences for years.  This will take every one of you talking to your friends about Columbia, finding out what Village they live in, and forcing them to get out their calendars in front of you and mark "April 20" as the day to vote. 

That's all for today.  Have a great Friday doing what you love.  It's impossible not to.

Arbor on and Think Big!