Who to Vote For?

No, not referring to Trump or Biden, but rather for the SOA Board of Directors. All owners will soon be receiving their ballots to vote for the three open positions on the Board. Five candidates have thrown their hat into the ring, two incumbents: Tom Fitzgerald and Terril Retter, and three other owners seeking to serve:  Mark Capalongan, Bill O’Donnell and Jacob Williams. Clicking on the forgoing names will link to the individual candidate statements that will be included within the ballot mailing package.

The question is, what are you looking for in a Board Director?  Financial expertise? Prior HOA Board service? Management experience?, Diversity?, Sub Association affiliation? Active in community affairs? New blood (i.e., replace an Incumbent)? Other reasons?

Some of these aspects were addressed at the October 21st Candidate Night Meeting, which due to COVID-19 restrictions were held via a Zoom video conference session. If you were one of the Zoom participants, you certainly heard a lot to assist you in making up your mind, as each candidate was asked to respond to a series of diverse questions prepared by the SOA’s Communication Committee.

However, if you were not able to participate in the video conference  (only about 55 participated) and want to hear candidate responses to the posed questions (many being softballs for incumbents),  the session was video taped and is available for viewing via the following link (it may require backing up). The video tape is also available for viewing on the SOA website under the “Meet the 2020 Board Candidates” news article:

https://youtu.be/p-NaSFh9S-U

The prepared questions asked of each candidate were as follows, interpretation of responses is left to the listeners of the video:

  1. Did you access any social media outlets in preparing yourself for this Candidates’ Night, and are you familiar with the communications modes the Board has at its disposal to keep the community informed of and to get community input on critical issues? Do you have any ideas on how the Board can improve communication with the community?
  2. What is the top priority that you would like to undertake upon being elected to the Board?
  3. As a member of the Board, you will be expected to be a member and/or alternate member of one or more committees. On which committees would you be most interested in serving?
  4. Why are you running for the Board and what other leadership or volunteer roles in which you have served particularly qualify you for this undertaking? Have you attended Board or committee meetings to prepare for this?
  5. Do you understand the relationship of the Somersett Owners Association with the sub-associations of Sierra Canyon, The Village, and The Vue; the reasons and authority for the sub-associations; and how you would use this structure to improve the cohesiveness of Somersett as a community?
  6. Have you reviewed the SOA Budget and Reserve Study and how would you address potential budget and reserve shortfalls, including our current debt?
  7. Are you aware of the composition, duties, and function of the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee? Please describe the ways in which you would balance the aesthetic priorities of the community with the individual desires of our Association members to produce harmonious outcomes.
  8. How would you describe the connection between the Somersett Golf and Country Club and the overall Somersett community?

In addition to the canned questions, at the end of the formal session, participating owners were able to ask their own. Four were submitted which are paraphrased as follows:

  1. How would you work with the Town Square property owners to revitalize the area with activities as it has become somewhat of a “ghost town”?
  2. What new steps would you take to improve water conservation?
  3. What is your vision of the community in 2035 and how would you sell it to others?
  4. An opinion that current Board leadership is lacking and how would you use your leadership skills to: a) improve Board responses to owner questions and concerns?, b) initiate cost reductions and responsible budgets, and c) Improve community relations and communications?

In addition to the Candidate Night video, what other sources of information are available to assist owners in making up their mind? Obviously the ballot mailing candidate statements referenced above, talking to friends and neighbors to gain their perspectives, and social media publications.  For the later, candidates Retter, Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have posted insightful statements supporting their candidacy on this website (just scroll down through the October Postings). Also, the “Somersett Nextdoor” website contains dialogs (if you can navigate to them) between candidates and residents.

It is interesting to note that candidates Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have collaborated on their vision for the community and are running as a “Team”. In this regard, they have established a website wherein they summarize their qualifications, promises to the community, perceived shortfalls of the current Board, solutions to ongoing issues, and a forum for reader interaction. Their website may be accessed via the following link:

www.NewSomersett.com

It is apparent from Candidate Night responses and visiting their website, that the non-incumbent candidates Capalongan, O’Donnell and Williams have spent considerable time educating themselves on community issues in preparation for Board service. Much more so that most candidates in the past. Please note that this is just a SU observation, who has followed these Board elections for many years. and not an endorsement, we will leave that to others.

In accessing the video tape, one will observe the quality leaves somewhat to be desired, perhaps a learning curve for future such sessions. Also, SU does not understand why owner questions could not be asked directly by the owner, as has been the practice in the past, rather than being filtered and presented by the Moderator. Certainly the technology for this exists.

For for those you who want to voice your support for or endorse a particular candidate or candidates, and why, your comments are always welcome.