Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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Oakmont News, Opinion & More

The OVA Election Process

It is quite probable that there are many Oakmont property owners who would be interested in being a candidate for the OVA Board of Directors (BOD).  The reluctance to enter a race is based on the negative type of responses by others (groups or individuals) that begin and grow during the election process itself.  It was not only the Yes or No (on golf) issue or the disparity of opinions or wealth in Oakmont that triggered the reluctance of some to jump into the last three elections.  It was the “in your face” commentary and prejudices targeted at candidates on many platforms (Nextdoor, Facebook, Oakmont News, Kenwood Press, Press Democrat, etc.) that made the decision to run (or not) more difficult.

Why are there so few candidates?  The first question should be: “How many 55-85+ year old owner residents are willing to risk being vilified by opponents and/or their opponent’s supporters and others for simply expressing a dissenting opinion and/or questioning a current management decision or policy?”  My guess to that question is, “not many”. The second question then becomes “How do we change that situation?”  That may take some time, but without a positive outcome to question 2, it does make the decision about moving elsewhere an easier one.

For those of us who have been involved in political elections (city,  county, state, etc.), we quickly became well aware of what the negative consequences could be.  Most OVA members who have been interested in a board position hoped that Oakmont’s election process would be a more civil one.  Unfortunately, recent Oakmont elections have become more divisive and difficult for many to stay involved.  Some thought that maybe residents have too much time on their hands and need to churn up some excitement.  That is not the case for the negative discourse.  The only other plausible reason is that there are residents who just do not understand how a community election process should be run or why questioning leaders and providing meaningful information can be beneficial. Politics is not for the (literally) faint of heart and the process should not be a bully laddened event.

No matter who decides to participate, the next election process should concentrate on educating the membership about the benefits and outcomes of enacted or proposed solutions.  That can be accomplished through an information policy (the Community Education & Transparency Committee — CETC) that provides the actual data or research used for decisions. That policy should be encouraged by anyone involved in the election process.

As for the recruitment of interested members for an OVA BOD position, the Nominating Committee (NC) could be the source of a “How to qualify and run for an OVA BOD election” educational forum.  That forum should also be available to anyone interested in being a candidate and those just wishing information about the election process.  The NC should not make any endorsement or qualifying statements of prospective candidates.  If a candidate wishes to make his/her qualifications known or to present additional information to the community, the Oakmont News, Oakmont Observer, or other news/information outlet could publish those credentials/experience in a limited word format (say 500 words) in accordance with the new SB 323 requirements.

There are other election issues and several very controversial mandates in SB 323 and AB 670 that will require an in depth review of bylaws and election policy that may need to be sorted out over the next year by the legislature. The 2020 OVA election rules, and the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and conversion statutes, will be the most concerning issues for every California homeowner association to address. Those interested in those issues should get involved in some way to provide input to the OVA BOD as a director or as an informed member.

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1 Comment

  1. Lyn Cramer on December 4, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    John, good luck on this one.  A thick skin has been an essential prerequisite for any board member since I’ve lived here (12 years), and that includes years in which controversies were tame compared to recent ones.  Is the atmosphere likely to change when the decisions now being made cost millions of dollars and promise to transform Oakmont?  No, I’m not endorsing the vilification of board members.  Just being realistic.  Part of the problem is our top-down governing hierarchy.  One gets to vote for board members–usually based on a content-free campaign–and that’s it.  A little effort to include members in major decisions might well tame a few savage beasts. 

    Your effort, however, couldn’t be more important.  AB-670 (especially) and other recently passed state laws make it clear that common interest developments like ours are not going to be left alone to live in peace and govern themselves.  We face buffeting on many fronts, well beyond those internally generated.  Going forward, the quality of the people we elect to the board will likely matter more than at any time in our 55 years.

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