Wilde Lake Columbia Council Candidates Q&As

The Columbia Council and Village Board elections are on April 23rd and ballots can be submitted now. See the Voting and Election information for Wilde Lake website for voting instructions. Tina Horn and Bill Santos are the two candidates running for Columbia Council to be the Wilde Lake representation on the Columbia Association Board of Directors. Here are their responses to these questions.


Question #1: What do you think is the role of a member of the CA Board of Directors?

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

I think that the CA Board of Director members have the duties that are outlined by the Council of Nonprofits: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. What that looks to me like is faithfully and intentionally seeking the most prudent use of CA’s assets, protecting those assets, and using those assets appropriately and justly to best benefit the widest scope of Columbia’s residents. I think that CA’s assets are broad-based beyond just our lands and tangibles and include our people (neighbors, businesses, and staff), our reputation, and our relationships. The CA board member role includes fostering positive relationships within and among our communities, on the board itself, and between board and staff. It is the role of the CA Board of Directors members to set the vision for the organization and it is the role of the staff to execute on that vision. I also think that Board members have a responsibility to seek community input on CA’s work in all the ways that they can, especially including historically underserved segments of the community. To be very clear, I do not think it is the role of members of the Board to micro-manage staff functions or to be involved in organizational minutia. Our community is facing challenges that require bold vision and connection-makers.

A CA Board member must work collaboratively with fellow board members to carry out the purpose of the Columbia Association, which according to it’s charter, “shall be organized and operated exclusively for the promotion of the common good and social welfare of the people of the community of Columbia and its environs…” In addition, CA board members also hire and review the performance of the CA president, review and pass the annual budget, and provide oversight of CA facilities, services, and programs.


Moreover, CA board members must also fulfill the role of non-profit corporate board members, and are bound by a duty of care, a duty of loyalty, and fiducial responsibility.

Finally, beyond all the above-mentioned duties that can be ferreted out among various policy documents, I truly believe CA Board members must embrace a love, joy, and hope for this city. They must value our city’s future more than its (I would say, somewhat amazing) past. This is not written down anywhere, but without these beliefs, all the words before this paragraph quickly take on a dry and grinding quality. With love, joy, and hope, this city is a garden to grow people.


Question #2: Rank the following CA programs and services in order of how important these initiatives are to you. Explain your rankings and identify any items in the list that you believe CA should increase funding to?


List: Maintaining and Protecting Open Space; Outdoor Pools; Sports and Fitness (ie. Gyms, Golf, Tennis, Indoor Aquatics, etc.); Pathways; Parks and Play Areas; Village Association Funding; Events; Sustainability; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives; Lakefront Improvements; Arts and Culture Programs; Youth and Teen Programs

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

- Maintaining and Protecting Open Space

- Pathways

- Outdoor Pools

- Parks and Play Areas

- Youth and Teen Programs

- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

- Sustainability

- Arts and Culture Programs

- Village Association Funding

- Events

- Lakefront Improvements

- Sports and Fitness (i.e. Gyms, Golf, Tennis, Indoor Aquatics, etc.)

There aren’t any of these areas within Columbia that fail to serve a segment of the community and they should all be appropriately funded. Limited budgets force prioritization and this is my current preference. I would not advocate for cutting funding for any of these. I recognize that we do not have unlimited resources, however, and must make choices and priorities. With additional funding, Open Space could be enhanced with lower maintenance native perennials, the pathway network could be expanded, outdoor pools could be upgraded with additional features, and youth and teen programs could be extended across multiple locations.

- Maintaining and Protecting Open Space

- Parks and Play Areas

- Sustainability

- Pathways

- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

- Village Association Funding

- Outdoor Pools

- Lakefront Improvements

- Youth and Teen Programs

- Arts and Culture Programs

- Events

- Sports and Fitness (i.e. Gyms, Golf, Tennis, Indoor Aquatics, etc.)


I highly rank the areas of open space and in the general case public access. I placed these at the top of the list because I believe if you placed a low priority on them, they may one day disappear. If Columbia began anew today, and we did not have Sports and Fitness, they would (to some level) be provide either municipally through the County or by private interests. The difference being a matter of intensity. If a new Columbia was born without open space, parks, and pathways, I do not believe they would be integrated into the city at all. Therefore, they are essential and unique at the top of my list.


DEI follows because I believe it has been a part of Columbia since its founding, and it is also an essential part of what makes Columbia special. This is quickly followed by Village Associations and Pools, in that these are amenities and organizations spread throughout the city and serve the greatest amount of people closest to their homes.


Rounding out the bottom four are programs, services, and Sports and Fitness, which if I did not have to rank, I would still regard as highly valuable.


Question #3: What is one big idea you have that you think the Columbia Association should be pursuing?

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

The one big idea I think CA should be pursuing is growth. We must wholeheartedly embrace change, our current reality, solutions for the environmental crisis, the diversity of our neighbors, the opportunity to make meaningful strides in race relations, and use these seemingly chaotic and competing phenomena to recreate Columbia itself. There is so much opportunity. We must set aside our past habits and fears and lean into the exciting future we could create.

I believe CA should create a steering committee to bring journalism and news reporting back to Columbia. To be clear, Columbia has a wonderful blogging and social media community with many residents dedicated to reporting the goings-on in Columbia, but I am pretty sure all do it on a part time basis, and secondary to their primary vocation. We need a professional news organization in the second largest community in the State of Maryland. The withdrawal of the Washington Post from local reporting, purchase of all local news media by the Baltimore Sun’s parent company, and the shift to internet/social media-based information delivery has resulted in less and less reporting in our community each passing year.


I don’t think CA should directly finance a news organization, but I believe it is best suited to bring the interested parties together and do the foundational work to allow news reporting to bloom again here in Columbia.


Question #4: Does CA currently fund anything that you view as wasteful? If so, what? Would you reduce funding to any current programs/services (which ones?) and/or be supportive of increasing the CA assessment fee to fund the initiatives you identified in your response to question 2 or 3?

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

Columbia is a profoundly diverse place and it’s appropriate that CA fund a wide variety of programs to meet this community’s needs. I do not view any of CA’s programs as wasteful and with unlimited resources would advocate for increasing all of their funding. We do not have unlimited resources, unfortunately, and good stewardship requires careful decision-making, prioritization, and listening to community input. Good stewardship also requires listening to the voices who have been left out of previous conversations and intentionally seeking their input in new and different ways. I do believe that there is a growing appetite within the community for increasing the CPRA assessment rate. I do not expect that to happen this coming year, but I do expect it to happen. With the dire circumstances of the environmental crisis that we are in, and the ongoing reckoning we are making with the nation’s systemic and structural racism, and the adaptations we must make to cope with those, I think the community will recognize the need and act wisely.

To be honest, I struggle with answering this question without seeing the result (in some way or another) as highly subjective. What I have long held is that CA lacks the appropriate metrics to: a) determine at what point a program/service is wasteful, and b) be able to effectively communicate the wastefulness to the residents/users. Another way to put it is “if CA owned and operated a VHS format video library, would it still be in operation today?” Some days I think to myself “of course not,” other days, I’m not so sure.


I believe a good test case of this is the Haven on the Lake closure. It was a tough choice to make, but they did it. Did they give enough notice to those frequent patrons to have a say? Have they followed up with these former patrons to provide growth, and lessons learned? As far as I can tell, CA has been silent on this issue. The absence of a feedback loop on such a big decision is troubling.


Question #5: Do you believe that CA adequately serves the entirety of Columbia's diverse population? If not, what would you do to improve upon that?

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

No, I do not believe that CA currently adequately serves the entirety of our diverse population. I think we have historically under funded offerings for youth and teens, young adults, and seniors. I will continue to advocate for improvements in those areas. I also think that Columbia will continue to diversify further, across racial, socio-economic, and generational lines, because of its desirability as a place to live, so CA’s programming must shift accordingly. I would like CA to anticipate, embrace, and celebrate that diversity more fully and make its shifts more proactively.

No. Adequately serving the entirety of Columbia’s diverse population is an ideal. Columbia has a record of acceptance of people of differing origins, religions, economic circumstances, and sexual orientation. While acceptance has progressed over the decades, the pace has been erratic.


I believe the community is open to further expanding the reach of CA programs, services, and facilities; however, the community lacks the leadership to get the job done.


To use an analogy for our path forward, James Rouse famously stated that one of Columbia’s goals was to respect the land. What we have found is that the methods of respecting the land in the late 1960’s fall far short of 21st century environmental sustainability. In a similar way, the concepts of diversity, inclusion, and equity at the time of Columbia’s founding must also be shaped for today’s needs and population.


CA should conduct internal and external audits of programs and services to determine if there are any structural inequities that must be changed. In addition, CA should hire professionals to cultivate diversity, similar to the watershed and energy professionals brought on board.


Question #6: Does CA do enough to support your village? If not, what more should they be doing?

Tina Horn

Bill Santos

There will always be room for improvement for supporting each of the villages, including Wilde Lake. I think that there is opportunity in the adaptations necessary to cope with the environmental crisis, for example, to increase resources and supports commensurate with each village’s needs. Wilde Lake, for example, would benefit greatly from increased services to middle school and high school youth. A community center would allow them a safe meeting place to be after school and programming could be offered in sports and fitness, but also in multicultural exchanges, and the arts. We could leverage our existing programming across multiple locations to serve more and more neighbors and add to the richness of our lives here.

No. I believe CA should be providing leadership and non-profit training to the Village Boards. Understanding the duty of care, the duty of loyalty and fiduciary responsibilities should be provided across the city to ensure all boards are on the same page with respect to non-profit board governance.


In addition, CA lien revenue has increased at a rate far greater than the increase in CA share allocations to the Village Associations. I believe the share allocations should be indexed to the increase in assessment revenue to the Columbia Association. Over the years, I have the perception that Village Associations have seen the revenue percentage of their total budgets from CA shrink. To be fair, the allocation of funds to the Villages has not remained stagnant over the years, but it seems to me that in times of prosperity, that should be shared down the line as much as possible.



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