By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Yesterday’s post highlighted an HOA election dispute in Georgia. Today IAC highlights an antiquated HOA election process in Chimney Hill Owners’ Association, Vermont.
When Chimney Hill was established in 1967, it was common for such associations, including those in association-governed communities, to establish a nominating committee. The nominating committee would interview and evaluate potential candidates for the board, and present them to members on the annual election ballot.
The original idea behind the nominating committee was to ensure that candidates were a good fit for the organization, and possessed the skills and personal qualities to serve their communities well.
Over the past several decades, for many organizations, it became challenging to find even one candidate to fill each vacancy on the board. So, over the years, the nominating committee settled for a single nominee for each vacancy on the board. Of course, that made the “election” at the annual meeting a mere formality. As long as there were no loud objections to a particular candidate, the nominees automatically became members of the board.
But, good intentions aside, critics say that the Nominating Committee for Chimney Hill Owners’ Association has gone too far. They say that limiting the number of nominees to the number of open seats on the HOA board effectively deprives members of the right to vote for a member of their own choice.
Two long-time residents of Chimney HIll, Keith Herbert and Chris Cogdill, expressed interest in serving on their HOA board. Both seem well qualified for the task.They were interviewed by the Nominating Committee, along with several other interested members, including two incumbent board members. The committee chose four nominees, two of them incumbents, one for each vacant seat on the board. Herbert and Cogdill were not chosen, so their names do not appear on the ballot for a June 2, 2018 election.
Of course, that puts Herbert and Cogdill at a distinct disadvantage, and makes the election meaningless.
Determined to break up the “good ole boy” network and what they call a “rigged election,” both Herbert and Cogdill have started a web page and internet campaign. They encourage HOA members to write-in their names on the ballot currently being distributed and collected by Chimney Hill Owners’ Association (CHOA).
The website includes a link to several email letters the pair has received from residents and one former owner of a home in Chimney Hill — all of them in support of the write-in candidates.
In general, Herbert, Cogdill, and their supporters seek greater transparency and more open communication from their board of directors. They also seek to amend bylaws to make future elections more democratic.
Chimney Hill is a resort community with access to winter and summer activities including golf, tennis, fishing, skiing, ice staking, and social activities in the club house. Many owners use their home as a vacation getaway, and rent their homes to offset costs of ownership.
CHOA is just one example, but I hear from owners all over the country, complaining that their HOA board nominating committee simply limits membership’s choices.
A Nominating Committee that makes certain there will be no competition for board candidates of an association-governed community simply cultivates apathy and circumvents the “democratic” process of a non-profit corporation.
At CHOA, the Nominating Committee consists of the board President and other members appointed by the board.
It’s more proof that voting in new leadership on the board can be contentious and challenging. Depending on the amount of pushback from the incumbent board, and the total percentage of voting interests held by the board members currently in power, many owners will simply give up the fight and move out, like one former CHOA owner.
Today’s source article:
Pair challenges association election process
Thu, 05/24/2018 – 4:00pm
Deerfield Valley News
By Mike Eldred
WILMINGTON- Two Chimney Hill residents are running a write-in campaign for their homeowners association board of directors. Keith Herbert and Chris Cogdill are promising to change what they say is an undemocratic system that has an impact on every homeowner in the development.
They describe a system in which the board of directors, essentially, selects its own membership. Under the association’s bylaws, all candidates to be placed on the ballot are selected by a nominating committee of board members. The bylaws say the committee “shall make as many nominations for election to the board of directors as it shall, in its discretion, determine, but not less than the number of vacancies that are to be filled.”
Although the language of the bylaw doesn’t specifically limit the number of candidates that can be nominated for each vacancy, when Herbert and Cogdill recently sought nominations to have their names placed on the ballot, they were rejected. In fact, of the eight people, including two incumbents, who sought nominations for four board positions that are up for election at CHOA’s annual meeting on June 2, only four were selected – one candidate for each position.