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VMs Elect Two New Directors and Return Two Incumbents to WCA Board

Reading the tea leaves of the 2014 WCA Board election, an observer might conclude Westchase Voting Members (VMs) were trying to send a message: let’s get back to basics.

The election saw two challengers who emphasized traditional HOA responsibilities like deed restriction enforcement, financial prudence and facilities maintenance, running against four incumbents, who touted the board’s record and involvement in such things as lobbying for the funding of the Citrus Park Drive extension.

In the end, VMs awarded the most votes to the challengers, electing West Park’s Brian Ross (21 votes) and Glencliff’s Kathy Carlsen (19 votes). Scooping up third and fourth place (and the remaining two open board seats) were incumbents Keith Heinemann of Radcliffe (15 votes) and Joe Odda of Stockbridge (14 votes).

Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Nancy Sells and Director Darrick Sams, however, lost their reelection bids by garnering 13 votes and 5 votes respectively.

WCA Board Vice President Ken Blair, the Nominating Committee Chair, presided over the association’s annual meeting of the Westchase Voting Members (VMs). It began at roughly 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 following the VMs' monthly meeting. The four incumbent directors, Odda, Heinemann, Sams and Sells, were running for reelection along with Carlson, who is Glencliff’s VM, and Ross, who currently serves as a supervisor on the Westchase Community Development District (CDD). Ross has also served previously on the WCA board, including a stint as its president.

VMs and the audience were asked to submit questions for the candidates, which were then reviewed by the Nominating Committee (consisting of Blair and WCA Director Dyan Pithers) and WCA Attorney Jon Ellis for selection. VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) voiced frustration that there were no VMs on the Nominating Committee and therefore, while the election of board members was VMs’ responsibility, none would participate in selecting the candidates’ questions. Blair replied firmly that the documented rules stated, “The Nominating Committee will review the questions,” and he could not nominate anyone to the committee that evening. (The Nominating Committee is named by the WCA Board.) Quiros then reminded Blair of his role at the meeting, which, he stated, was to only ensure that Robert’s Rules of Order were followed but not to comment on anything since the election was a Voting Member decision. No VMs, however, participated in the question selection.

Each candidate was given 90 seconds to provide an introduction. All four candidates talked about living in Westchase for many years, mentioned they loved the community and detailed their past involvement in community affairs. Each candidate had participated as VM, committee member and/or board member in the past.

The four questions asked to each candidate were:

1) What do you think is the most important need of the Westchase community?
2) If you are elected, how will you use your experience of living in Westchase as well as your occupation to enhance the further development of Westchase and the board?
3) Which in your opinion are the three most important responsibilities of the board of directors?
4) Should the board spend homeowner fees for issues outside of Westchase that the majority of homeowners may or may not be in favor of?

The fourth question was prompted by the association’s recent budget process. In the weeks following the WCA’s Aug. 19 budget workshop, some VMs took issue with the board’s legal spending on the Costco matter, estimated initially by WCA staff at $30,000 and later at $20,000. VMs also challenged board members’ request that the funds again be budgeted for legal counsel’s assistance in lobbying Hillsborough County to fund the Citrus Park Drive extension, which would connect Sheldon Road near the mall to Countryway Boulevard just north of the library. At the Sept. 4 WCA Board meeting, $15,000 in funds were stripped from the 2015 budget’s legal line (with $10,000 of it reallocated to capital improvements) following requests that it be eliminated.

Tackling the questions, Sells described her focus on stepping up violations to keep the community at a premier level and keeping the lines of communication open so that people understand what is being done. In response to the fourth question, she said, “I assume this alludes to Costco. The board recognized that some type of development was going to go into that area. It was in the best interest of Westchase as a whole. We could have had a large apartment complex that would have generated lots of traffic.”

Carlsen focused on getting more residents involved in the workings of the association. She did not agree with spending homeowner fees on issues outside of Westchase and stated, “I don’t think it is in the best interest of all of the residents. I believe too much of our dollars are spent on special interest groups.”

Heinemann said he wanted to maintain Westchase property values and standards. He also discussed his concerns about traffic in Westchase, which he stated he expounded upon in his Village Voices column in the September World of Westchase.

Odda echoed some of the others on clear communication and community participation but also emphasized gaining community consensus on decision making. In response to the question on spending homeowner fees for issues outside of Westchase he said, “It is difficult to answer because you don’t know in advance. One of the issues which I am associated with right now is the Citrus Park extension. That affects Westchase. The traffic nightmare is growing. This is our problem more than anybody else’s. That is one project that affects us and I am committed to helping.”

Ross said that board members need to be aware that Westchase is over 20-years-old and need to be smart as the community’s assets are getting older. Ross gave a solid “no” on spending homeowner fees for things outside of Westchase. He stated, “We are not a civic organization. Taking a position on Costco or the Citrus Park extension are good things but we shouldn’t spend money on them. We can devote our resources but we shouldn’t take homeowner fees. It is not fair.”

Sams talked about how his travel for work provides him a view of different areas, what works and what doesn’t, and what’s best for the community as a whole without individual bias. He also responded “no” to the question of spending homeowner fees saying, “Within Westchase, yes. Outside of Westchase, I don’t see why we would do that.”

Sams added he was not aware of the board spending assessments on outside issues.

Each candidate then provided brief closing remarks, followed by VMs submitting their votes.

Carlsen, Ross, Odda and Heinemann will serve two-year terms and join fellow board members Joaquin Arrillaga of The Greens, Ken Blair of Glencliff and Dyan Pithers of West Park Village. The new board will meet on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. at the WCA Office Building on Parley Drive to select their officers for the year.

VMs adjourned at 8:53 p.m.

The VMs’ voting tally sheet follows:

Neighborhood



K. Carlsen

 

K. Heinemann



J. Odda

  



B. Ross

      

D. Sams



N. Sells

    

Abbotsford

 

 

Arlington Park – NO VM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bennington 

 

 

Berkeley Square – VM Absent

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brentford

 

 

Bridges

 

 

 

Castleford  

 

 

Chelmsford

 

 

 

 

Classic Townhomes -NO VM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enclave-NO VM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glencliff

 

 

 

 

Glenfield 

 

 

Greens

 

 

Harbor Links/The Estates

 

 

Keswick Forest

 

 

Kingsford  

 

 

Radcliffe

 

 

Saville Rowe  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shires

 

 

 

Single Family Homes of WPV

 

 

Stamford

 

 

 

Stockbridge 

 

 

Townhomes of WPV

 

 

Traditional Townhomes of WPV

 

 

Village Green

 

 

Villas of WPV

 

 

Villas of Woodbridge 

 

 

The Vineyards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodbay

 

 

 

 

Worthington

 

 

Wycliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL VOTES:

19

15

14

21

5

13

Note: Villages with no votes indicated did not have a VM or Alternate present at the meeting.

By Brenda Bennett

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