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Please Vote For Me… Ray Harwood

I’ll get straight to the point: I want you to vote for me to join the Rio Crossing Board of Directors.  If you are a homeowner in Rio Crossing, you should be receiving a ballot in the mail in late August or early September.  Please vote!  If you do not vote, and not enough votes are collected to make a quorum, then the existing board members will likely just keep on going.  Your vote is important!!

I’d also like to ask you to vote for another Rio Crossing homeowner that I respect and believe has applicable skills, Andres Montoya.

Why Should You Vote For Me?

The decision to run for the board was a tough one for me… not because of the amount of time and energy that will be involved, but because of my perception that I might not be allowed by other board members to continue being an open channel of communication to you, the homeowners and residents.  You see, I feel a sense of duty to you, my neighbors and fellow homeowners, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way.

If I get on the Board, I want to make some changes.  Not “make the entrance monuments pretty again”, or “put more water on the grass so it’ll be greener during the summer.”  If I am elected, my goal is to change the way the board operates, and how the board treats YOU: whether you are an Association member, homeowner, resident, or tenant.

I’ve become very familiar with our governing documents — the CC&Rs and the Bylaws — as well as the Arizona statutes that apply to HOAs.  My personal opinion is that the current and previous board members haven’t been as familiar with the governing documents as they claim, and in some cases I believe they have taken actions not permitted by our governing documents and the Arizona statutes.

This doesn’t mean I think they’re bad people.  On the contrary, they seem like they genuinely care about maintaining the Rio Crossing community — even though sometimes it gets to looking pretty brown and trashy.  But I believe they do care.  Unfortunately I feel like they’re often willing to ignore the rules and just charge ahead.  You see, I believe there are two parts to organizational leadership:

  1. Do the right things.
  2. Do things the right way.

I’ve met several neighbors who feel like the process and communications involving our violations and fines are not very “neighbor friendly”.  Management companies and many HOA board members will say, “We have a right to fine people, and to collect late fees, and sometimes you just have to be tough.”  I don’t disagree… I just don’t think you have to start out tough.  So I’d like for the new board (or a committee of volunteers!) to review the entire collections process, and make recommendations for changes to make it more neighbor-friendly.  The board members are, after all, your neighbors.

But they also should act in the best interests of the Association members.  Again, some management companies and HOA board members will say their primary duty is to the Association — the organization itself, protecting its financial well-being, and taking the appropriate actions necessary to perhaps keep its members in line.  In case you are wondering… that is not my thought process.

If you want to know more about me, read the Meeting Notes of board meetings I compiled by clicking the HOA Board Meetings menu item above.  My Meeting Notes aren’t the short, dry list of decisions made… there is a lot of information in there about the discussions that took place, and how the decisions were made.  There’s also a little colorful commentary in the notes and footnotes — I try to keep my opinions separate from the facts.  Reading the Meeting Notes of even one meeting will give you a good idea of how your board has been operating, and what my thoughts are.  It might even prompt you to read them every month.

An HOA Is Different!

I don’t think there is another organization in the world where your only alternative to “staying in” is to sell your home and move away.  With any other non-profit membership organization I’ve been associated with — including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Project Management Institute, and even the Community Association Institute — if you don’t like the policies, the projects, or the people involved, you can just quit!  There are other similar organizations out there to join, and all you have to do is find them and join them.  Or be brave and create one of your own!

But not here, not in an HOA.  If you don’t like how the community is being run, you really only have a few alternatives… ignore them, join them, or leave them:

  1. Sit quietly and deal with it.  Hope they leave you alone.  Don’t do anything that anybody wouldn’t like.  Be quiet, keep your trash and recycles out only when allowed, cut your grass and pull your weeds. Hope they don’t raise your assessments.
  2. Join the Board of Directors and spend time making changes, if your co-board members will agree, and if you can get good advice on what changes to make.  Communicate better with all of the members — if you can.
  3. Put your home on the market and sell it, if you can.  There are a lot of houses in Rio Crossing for sale and for rent.  And once you sell, good luck finding a reasonable home without an HOA.  There are about 9,000 HOAs in Arizona alone!

There is one more approach: vote for someone you trust to be on the board, someone who will communicate with you and keep you informed (in order to maintain that trust), and who will seek your input in meaningful ways so that you know what is being done is taking your opinion into account.

Please vote for me, and I’ll work to do that.

What Else Have I Done?

Look, I’m not here to toot my horn.  I do things in Rio Crossing because I can. I’m semi-retired, doing a little custom software development and data analysis on the side.  I do stuff because it needs doing, I’m always interested in helping out, and I have some time.

In January 2017 I set up a meeting with the City of Avondale about the Block Watch program.  I put a door hanger on every door in Rio Crossing inviting you and all your neighbors to the Block Watch meeting.  As I walked through the neighborhood, some of you were outside, and I stopped and chatted; everyone I talked with was friendly.

So far, I’m the only Block Watch “Captain” in Rio Crossing.  (I hate titles, but that’s what Avondale calls it.)  I do what I can to look out for my neighbors.  I go out and talk with them.  I like to talk, and I like to listen.  A few people I talk with have said I should run for the HOA board.

You’ll notice I haven’t spoken of any previous experience as an HOA board member.  That’s because I’ve never been in an HOA before last year.  But I have been to every board meeting since I moved into Rio Crossing — even the special meetings.  And I joined the Community Association Institute (CAI), which has a wealth of information online about HOAs, including an interactive forum where people like me can ask questions of people that are experts.  I’ve been reading CAI’s online material and several books on HOAs in the last year.  I know some things, and I know I don’t know everything.  And I’ll keep learning as I go.

I was also on the board of the Tucson Chapter of the Project Management Institute a number of years, serving as President for 2 years.  And I’ve had some experience at managing finances at the $5M-$8M range.  If you want to see my work background, take a look at my profile on LinkedIn.

More Information

You don’t have time to read the Great American Novel on me and my philosophies (you could read all of the Meeting Notes I compiled by clicking the HOA Board Meeting menu — that will give you a good idea of how your board has been operating, and what my thoughts are).  But if you do what to know more, you can send me questions or comments in an Email from this site’s Contact page.

What else can you do?

If you want to help be a part of that change, send me an Email.  I’m interested in your opinion and input, and if you would consider participating in the community in any way (run for the Board, serve on a committee, volunteer a little time to help out – anything!).  It might be too late for you to run for the board, but if you are interested and there is a vacancy, there might still be an opportunity.

Also, if you are an accountant, the board could certainly use your help occasionally to review financial compilations, balance sheets, and processes.

Board Seats: How many?

How many people are going to be elected to the board this September?

Short answer:

The current number of board members is set at 5.  Per our Bylaws, it can range from 3 to 9, and has to be an odd number.

Long answer:

Based on the fact that the last declaration of the Board is that it is composed of 5 people, the 5 people receiving the most votes in September 2017 will be elected to the Board — unless the Board adjusts the number of Board Members before the election, which was suggested by one of the board members at an earlier meeting.  Given that the call for candidates has already specified 5 board seats, I’m hoping that remains the same.

What if – as happened at the last election – more than 5 people get votes?  Technically, only the top 5 people will be elected.  The Bylaws state:  “In each election of directors, the number of candidates equal to the number of positions to be filled receiving the greatest number of votes shall be deemed elected.”  Last year somehow, even though there were only 3 people on the previous board, all six people with any votes at all were declared “winners” and placed on to the board.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing — the board really can use all the volunteers it can get.  What I am saying is that the process defined in our Bylaws wasn’t followed.

Some History

The 2016 Election

At the last election in September 2016, there were 6 members elected to the board. (Since the Bylaws Section 3.1 indicates “the number of directors must always be an odd number”, a seventh person was added at the Special Meeting on September 24, 2016.  The last election had a few flaws in it.. read more about the 2016 election.)

Resignations and Adjustments

In the months of March and April of 2017, three members of the board resigned.  Bylaws Section 3.1 allows the Board to  “increase or decrease the number of directors on the Board within the minimum and maximum number of directors prescribed by this Section”, and also establishes that the Board “shall consist of at least three (3) and no more than none (9)  directors”, so the Board adjusted the number of Board seats to 5.

At the May 2017 meeting, one person volunteered to join the Board, and the open position was filled in accordance with Association Bylaws section 3.7.

Officers of the Association

There is another layer of organization, and this is the Officers of the Association.  There are four officers, which you might be familiar with, since most any official organization has these: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  Our Bylaws have details on the responsibility of the positions.

Did you know that only the President has to be a member of the Board?  The others can be from the general association members.  The reason for this is simple: The officers are officers of the Association, not officers of the Board of Directors.

At their first meeting after the board is elected, they decide on officers of the association.  It seems a little backward and self-serving to me, but that’s how the Bylaws are written.

Election Process

For an in-depth look at the election process, with references to the Association’s CC&Rs and Bylaws and the applicable Arizona statutes, view this page.