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Canyon Lake POA Board candidates discuss greatest challenges facing the POA

Canyon Lake Insider invited the six candidates running for the POA Board of Directors to answer a series of questions in the weeks leading up to the election. During this period, residents will have the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates and learn what they hope to accomplish if they are elected to serve on the board.

Three of the five seats are up for election. The six candidates are Jeanne O’Dell, Chris Papavero, Renee Griffiths, Jeff Bill, Alex Cook, and Joe Kamashian,

This week, the candidates were invited to answer the following question in 350 or fewer words: What do you believe is the greatest challenge(s) facing the POA at this time and how will you being elected make a difference?

The candidates appear in the order they are listed on the ballot.

Jeanne O’Dell

The greatest challenge facing the POA currently is the critical need to re-engage our members in the governance of our community. We need to find a way to engage our members on a continuous basis, not just at election time. We need to find a way to engage our members outside of the expectation that they attend board meetings to find out what is going on.

The true definition of transparent leadership is ensuring that all relevant information is shared so that the members can understand the hows and whys of the decisions that are being made. While we are elected to represent the members and therefore make decisions on their behalf, we need to guarantee that the members understand why we are doing what we are doing.

At the recent Meet the Candidates forum I said that I would not let comments made on social media influence my decisions. In retrospect, this was the wrong answer. It is important that we find ways to communicate with our members in the format that the members desire.

We need to publish committee activities to our members on a regular basis; in addition to reporting on them verbally at board meetings and including them in the written department reports attached to the agendas. We need to make sure that our members know what items are being discussed by the various committees so they can either attend or share their ideas with the committee chair via other methods.

We need to publicize and explain in advance any agenda item that we know will be of interest to the community. There should not be an expectation that the members read the agenda or attend board meetings to find out what is going on.

I strongly believe that as part of a strategic planning process, a systematic needs assessment survey involving all our members must be conducted to determine needs and if gaps between current conditions and desired conditions exist.

If I am elected, I will strive to make certain that the way that we conduct business evolves to meet the members’ needs.

Chris Papavero

The greatest challenge I see today is transparency. It seems that every year we hear POA candidates say they are running on transparency, but then nothing changes.

At last Tuesday’s board meeting, we were told that during the closed session meeting the current board renewed the general manager’s contract. Why was it renewed a year early? Why was it done weeks before a new board will be elected? Why was that responsibility ripped from the new board on May 11? Why would the board give the general manager more of our money before the old contract ran out? How much is the new contract for? What are the terms of the contract? How many years has it now been extended? What is the bonus structure? Is there an incentive for hard work with set goals for true performance?

Show us the contract and explain why you made this happen. Who voted for it and who voted against it? You can renew a contract if you have someone that is amazing and can complete projects on time and under budget. Did any of the current board come out and show the numbers for their decision? If this action comes into question what else are they doing in darkness and behind closed doors? What are they trying to hide?

Two of the most important contracts that are put before the board are the contract for the general manager and the contract for our legal counsel. These two people hold powerful and important positions to make sure Canyon Lake stays beautiful, maintained, and safe.

When I am elected, this will not happen again. I will make sure that the checks and balances are in place. I will also make sure that members’ votes will be heard for the new board. A contract will be followed to the letter. Contracts are not feelings and should not be treated as such. Are you happy with this board’s decisions? Your vote matters.

Renee Griffiths

Editor’s note: Renee Griffiths did not submit an answer.

Jeff Bill

Unfortunately, there is more than one challenge facing the POA right now. We have issues with communication, security, and prudent financial management. One item that may not be the greatest challenge but surprised me when getting out to meet people is that Canyon Lake members/residents said they were afraid to put our election signs in their yards for fear of repercussions by the current POA. It is intolerable that a member is concerned that the POA management would retaliate for supporting a candidate other than the ones supported by the current management staff.

No one should be bullied for what they believe in or support. No one! We live in a community, a neighborhood made up of family and friends. There is no room for intimidation.

If elected I plan on putting the checks and balances back in place and communicating them effectively. I want the permitting process between the three agencies, POA, city, and water district to be simplified and streamlined. If
the POA makes a mistake on permitting and/or judgment calls, they need to own it and make it right.

This is a property management company, not a dictatorship. Like most companies, there is a board of directors to guide the company. It is time to put the authority of the members back in place and continue to make this the best place to live.

Having said the above, I believe the immediate challenges would be security and prudent financial management. It is a misuse of funds to raise the dues after large project expenditures and then renew a contract over a year ahead of time at a rate increase higher than inflation and cost of living. We all understand there will be times when the dues are increased, but none of us expect the money raised from increased dues to be used for “fun” money, personal gain, and agendas.

I will be posting my plan for improved security and CC&R enforcement separately over the next few days since there is not enough space allotted here to elaborate on the details. Thank you.

Alex Cook

Leadership is a huge challenge facing the POA and our community. The community has set a precedent of voting in “new” directors every election (year). By doing so, each director only gets two years on the board. Trust me when I say it takes 12 to 14 months of being a board member to understand all the moving pieces of an $18 million dollar corporation with 170 employees. That leaves every director very little time to affect change or direction on the POA board, especially considering it would be their reelection year (never-ending cycle) once they get a handle on everything.

In the last 10 years, only eight incumbents (30%), and in the last five years, only three incumbents (24%) have been voted back onto the board. This creates a huge void in leadership and direction of our community. Any POA director that introduces change in any way will not get reelected, the past elections show this.

Every year the board consists of two or three new members on the board that spend a lot of time getting up to speed, as well, the staff spends hours upon hours educating the new directors.

If I get elected, I plan to stay on the board for the next four years (If I get reelected two years from now). I want to provide leadership and direction for this incredible community for a long time. My history proves I have been doing so behind the scenes for 20 years in this community. I am committed to the citizens for the long run.

Being a true Leader isn’t easy, but I am up for the challenge in the long run. We need consistent leadership on the POA Board to affect change. I will continue to lead with Integrity if elected. Thank you.

Joe Kamashian

We have many challenges facing the POA today. Our finances are always a hot topic with dues increases and spending concerns. I personally believe recent boards have done a good job keeping dues increases below basic economic increases while approving projects that continue to improve our community. If we don’t go forward as a community we are going backward. I will always work for Canyon Lake to go forward while spending wisely.

Communication or transparency is another challenge for both the board and the members. I think it is a two-sided issue that requires an effort from both sides. The POA and their communications staff does an amazing job reaching out through many platforms to spread association news, information, and project updates. They use the community website, social media, weekly newsletters, and quarterly issues of Canyon Lake Living. I will continue to support these methods and look for new ways to improve them. I will also continue to encourage members to do their part to be informed by trying to simplify the process.

Crime, safety, and security are probably the largest challenges that face our community. Crime prevention and member safety are mutual responsibilities of both the POA and the city. We currently have a $2.8 million contract for community patrol that carries a staff of about 70 employees. The city budget shows $1.75 million for police service in Canyon Lake for 24-hour coverage of one officer. Currently, the city and the POA spend over $4.5 million on police and security services annually.

Our security contract is in its last year and needs to be reevaluated to make sure we are getting the protection we need at a fair cost. As a board member I will insert myself in that process and make sure that is the case. Most crime comes under the responsibility of the police and needs to be addressed by the city. I am committed to working with the City of Canyon Lake to assist them with their efforts to fight crime.

Direct communication between our security company and police officer might be a good place to start.

Editor’s note: Ballots will be mailed to prime members on Monday, April 3. The last day it is recommended for voters to mail their ballots is May 5. Voters may also drop off their ballots on May 11 between 8 and 9 a.m. at the lodge. The Annual Meeting of the Members and Election of Directors will be held on Thursday, May 11, at 8 a.m. in the Holiday Bay Room at the lodge. The meeting will be called to order and polls will close at approximately 9 a.m. If a quorum is not met on May 11, the alternate meeting date will be on Saturday, May 13. 

Last week, the candidates were asked why they were running for the board and how they will make a difference if elected. To view the candidates’ answers, click here.

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