For homeowners association board

by: JOHN BOWLER - From left, Ben Johnson, president of the Ranch HOA, moderated the candidate forum at the Ranch, with George Mitchener, Gail DesBrisay, and Jack Keeling.It’s always a challenge to entice Crooked River Ranch residents to attend a meeting about community governance or just about any kind of meeting with one exception: a meeting to consider an increase in annual homeowner association dues.

Ranchers will flock to a meeting with that agenda to voice their opinions — i.e. objections — because their pocketbook is going to be affected by the outcome. The July 17 CRR Club and Maintenance Association forum for board candidates illustrates the point; fewer than half a dozen Ranchers were in attendance in addition to the three candidates themselves.

This year’s candidates' forum for three candidates will have virtually zero impact on the outcome of the upcoming election of three new board members, because all three need to be elected to replace three current incumbents whose retirement will be effective at the August annual meeting. Retiring members are Jim Martin, Herb Parker and Michelle DeSapio. It is little wonder this year’s event didn’t attract a crowd.

The three nominated candidates, Gail DesBrisay, Jack Keeling and George Mitchener, dutifully attended. The forum chairman was the HOA president, Ben Johnson. All three candidates are shoo-ins to be elected to the three available board vacancies that will occur; no matter how many or few ballots are actually returned in the upcoming election.

Questions were directed to both Ranch Administrator Judy LaPora and Johnson about the possibility of declaring the three candidates acclaimed as elected for three upcoming board vacancies. That would eliminate the considerable expense and time of mailing out ballots to confirm an election with a preordained outcome.

Both said it was not possible due to current bylaws which dictate an election being carried out no matter how many run for the vacancies available. Johnson also pointed out there will be an important ballot measure in the forthcoming election about eligibility of candidates for election to the HOA. It has come to the attention of the HOA board that existing Ranch bylaws don’t specify that candidates for election to the board must be HOA members.

Evidently some members of the current board think that candidates for the board should at least be HOA members if not necessarily fulltime residents. The fact that the requirement is not currently a condition of becoming a candidate for election may be a throwback to when the MacPherson family acquired the Ranch property. They all resided in Washington state at the time they developed the Ranch into a vacation community and some of them served on the Ranch’s first board of directors.

A reader might ask if the current trend of thought on the board is that its board members should be HOA members, why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to the requirements to be Ranch administrator? So far that issue hasn’t been raised according LaPora who is neither a Ranch property owner nor resident.

In some circles, it is thought best that the community manager or administrator not be a resident of the community they are managing. The reasons why are somewhat obscure. But, such a requirement might prevent an administrator or manager from making a community that would enhance his or her personal living status so to speak.

This year’s forum produced some interesting insights as to how the three candidates who will soon become HOA board directors regard the responsibility. In summary: All have resided on the Ranch for several years. DesBrisay is a Phase Rep and the two men both have served on other community boards; Keeling thinks a Ranch manager is preferable to an administrator. (LaPora said the job descriptions of both are virtually indistinguishable.)

Ranch priorities? DesBrisay: unsure as yet; Mitchener: covenants, conditions and restrictions enforcement, Architectural Committee and golf course.

Important abilities? DesBrisay: common sense; Mitchener: good analytical abilities and follow through to make things happen; Keeling: ability to get Ranchers interested in governance.

Reason for running? Keeling: It’s rewarding to help make a difference; DesBrisay: agrees with Keeling; Mitchener: to get involved and make a difference.

Importance of developing tourism? Keeling: important, e.g. more use of rodeo grounds; Mitchener: double-edged sword if overdone.

Vision for Ranch? Mitchener: Make Ranch more comfortable for property owners; DesBrisay: an alternative exit off the Ranch; Keeling: Remodel clubhouse and establish valet service for golf course.

Spousal backing? All three: no problem.

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