By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
An enthusiastic crowd filled the lecture hall Feb. 21 for the first of two Recreation Centers of Sun City West Governing Board election candidate forums at R.H. Johnson Recreation Center, 19803 R.H. Johnson Blvd.
Moderated deftly by Terry Hamman, TORCH committee chairman, the event featured a panel of seven candidates, who answered questions posed by audience members on hand-written cards. The seven will compete in the March election to fill five open seats on the board.
The moderator chose which candidates would answer which questions and kept the momentum going, occasionally reminding some of the more vocal attendees to adhere to the forum’s format of submitted rather than shouted questions.
Over the course of about 90 minutes, including opening and closing remarks from each, the candidates fielded a variety of questions on a range of topics, including governing board operations, rec center fees, budgeting, amenities and the future of the community.
What follows is a sampling of excerpts, including comments and answers provided by each of the seven candidates throughout the course of the evening.
Q: “In what way does a governing board director control association staff?”
Mr. Hurley: “There’s only one way: by hiring the general manager who leads the staff. Our only input is through the GM.”
“The real challenge for the board as a group is more strategic thinking,” said Mr. Hurley when asked about his vision for the governing board. “I will push for strategic thinking. That should be the crux of what the board does over the next couple of years.”
Q: “Are you happy with board’s decisions?”
Mr. Kuchtyak: “Yes, I’m very happy with the decisions of the board. How we move the community forward is very important.”
“One of the things I want to make crystal clear is none of us up here are opponents. We’re called for service.” Mr. Kuchtyak said in his opening remarks. “The board represents the community, but your input is needed.”
Q: “Should the owner-members be allowed to vote on projects over $1 million?”
Answering no, Marion Mosley used the ongoing $4.1 million R.H. Johnson pool renovation as an example, agreeing with others that the board is elected to represent the community and use its judgement and their input to decide on capital improvement projects.
“The pool project developed over two years,” said Mr. Mosely. “Many residents provided comments to committees, staff and the board. We went through grueling details before it came to fruition.”
Q: “Should part-time residents be able to serve as a board director?”
Mr. Renshaw: “The committees start meeting before the (winter visitors) come back, so, I would say no.”
“We keep raising fees every year and that’s hard for some to deal with,” Mr. Renshaw said in his opening remarks. “All organizations share the same need. We need to look at what can be done to bring expenses down. We’re a great community, but we do have challenges and we need to deal with them.”
On whether part-time residents should be able to participate on the board, Mr. Sloan offered a different perspective.
“We have technology, being present is not always necessary,” he said.
Because there are a number platforms to facilitate teleconferencing and telecollaboration, board membership need not be limited to year-round residents.
“Those days are gone,” Mr. Sloan added.
“I’m running to give back to the community,” said Ms. Wallis in her closing comments. “I’ve got the get up and go and will work hard for you.”
“We continue to want our community to be the best,” said Ms. Wallis in describing her vision for the organization in the near future. “We need to start thinking about how to get more golfers out there. Golfing is declining and we need to continue to grow and get better.”
Q: “What type of board is the RCSCW board?”
Mr. Walus: “The governing board is a policy board, not an operational board.”
He explained the board is responsible to set goals and directions, but that staff are responsible for operations and implementation.
“We’re very much interested to listen to the community and do the things we need to do to preserve the reputation of Sun City West for now and the future,” he said in his opening remarks. “The owner-members all have different wants and needs. I will strive to listen to all members.”