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.

13 thoughts on “Who to Vote For?

  1. I watched the candidate forum, audio as usual was very poor, the camera work better than normal. Perhaps FR should hire a qualified A/V technician/communication ( as a gig employee ?) – However, the quality of the community communication AV leads a lot to be desired! Please do something!!!

    My question, which I did not send in, as I felt that as a community resident I was being denied the opportunity to interact with existing Board members and maybe future Board members. – It revolves around the inability of First Residential (Board) to produce an up-to-date map of our community which can be used to show where the work is required by the SOA to maintain our community.

    As an aside; my work with the “documents committee”, also, unfortunately highlighted FR’s inability to produce up-to-date maps. For reasons I don’t understand, there is a reluctance to bring the property descriptions in our owners documents for all of Somersett up-to-date.

    How can we run/manage something properly if we don’t exactly what it is we are responsible for and where it is ??

    I thought all the candidates did well in presenting arguments for their election (or re-election). It is obvious that some of the current approaches to the management of our Association are not working well; perhaps we do need some fresh ideas to provide a sustainable vision for the future.

    Check out http://www.newsomersett.com/

    The new candidates have put a lot of effort into community outreach in an effort to try and make everything better going forward…

  2. Is there any choice? Obviously Trump! Oh that’s right this post relates to the SOA Board election. Given the unresolved issues, not good, and bad deals that the Association has faced the past few years, perhaps a Board cleaning is in order. However, like politicians, all Board candidates make promises they don’t keep. So who knows what the new candidates will do if elected, we can only hope. At least Mr. Retter has kept some of his.

    1. I do not believe Mr. Retter’s interests always fell in line with the interests of homeowners, in general.

  3. Believe curbs around the islands in the center of the parkways are maintained by the City. For sure the City paints them.

  4. Do not vote for any of the incumbent Board Members (Ton Fitzgerald, Terril Retter). New Board Leadership is needed. The members just learned that the Management Company employees were receiving bonuses from the HOA, we need new leadership to see if there is anything else we don’t know about.

      1. It is important to separate the value to homeowners, of Somersett Golf Course, from the value of the SGCC, to homeowners. There are many options for the golf course, and that is where we need active thinking.. Public option, with a 9 hole golf course, amphitheater for music events, cross country skiing, treed picnic areas..none of which require management participation of the SGCC..

  5. Fitzgerald has shown nothing but professionalism and competency and commitment to Somersett in my dealings with him. Leading an HOA is a contact sport, and he has handled it better than can be expected. Board decisions are by majority rule, and Fitzgerald had has to be on the losing side of some of the decisions he is blamed for.

    The Gang of 3 (Capalongan, O’Donnell, Williams) have a total of 24 months of residency in Somersett combined among the 3 of them. O’Donnell is an owner and eligible for election but not officially a resident – the COO for his home has not been issued. I have dealt with 2 of the 3 in my capacity with Somersett, and have found Capalongan reasonable, prepared, and easy to work with.

    1. Bear in mind that REreno is Mike McGonagle, the paid Architect professional who serves on the Aesthetic Guidelines Committee along with Directors Fitzgerald and Retter. Mr. McGonagle is not a Somersett owner nor does he attend SOA Board meetings to observe business discussions and owner interactions. He has no vested interest in the Community, except perhaps to retain his position as a paid professional on the AGC.

    2. Is it a contact sport? A paid professional, who is not a resident, should not be interfering with a home owner election. Mr. McGonagal, I have poured my life into building our home in Somersett over the last few years. Yes, it has taken over two years to find subcontractors, labor and materials in this busy market. My wife and I have been in Somersett every day for two years working 12 hours a day with blood, sweat, and tears building our home. I have a Daughter and Son-in-Law and 5 grandchildren in Somersett and your mischaracterization of my involvement in Somersett is unwarranted. Leading an HOA is not a contact sport, it is a collaboration. It is a cooperative effort of residents and the board to work together for the betterment of the community. Again, this is precisely why the three of us have chosen to run. My wife and I have been in Somersett for more than two years. So, even your facts are incorrect. Is this the attitude we want on the AGC? You chose to misstate the facts for your own benefit, and this self righteous attitude and misuse of your position to publicize my building status (of which you have no clue) on the AGC is exactly what needs to change.

  6. ReReno – what does tenure have to do with anything? Seriously? And you’re a consultant . . Need new board and vendor oversight, obviously.

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