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Current crop of SCC CA candidates offer pertinent experience

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Five experienced candidates now are competing for election here as directors on the community’s top administrative board.

By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER — Five experienced candidates now are competing for election here as directors on the community’s top administrative board.

The five – Al Alderman, Howie Griffin, Jane Keegan, Rob King and Paul Sasville – are vying for three open seats on the SCC Community Association Board of Directors which will be filled by CA members marking ballots for the annual election in December. Each has specific experience – either locally or in former home cities – serving in an elected position on a volunteer board.

The candidates – whether long-time residents or relative newcomers – also have particular objectives they want to attain on behalf of the community they’ve chosen to call home. Additionally, they all have keen interest in a proposed comprehensive capital improvements program soon to become a community-wide topic of discussions.

Alderman, a mechanical engineer from Connecticut, has served one three-year term on the nine-member CA board and now is after a second term to both continue work with Sun City Center’s 150 clubs and to guide the ship of community safety through the current rough economic seas, he said this week.

During his first term, Alderman has been the board’s key liaison with the large number of organizations engaged in wide ranging activities geared to resident interests, focused on helping them update their governing by-laws to meet contemporary standards as those documents have come up for review. To date, the official documents of at least 25 clubs have been examined, standardized and completed, he said.

The former engineer has succeeded with another detailed task – guiding creation, perhaps for the first time, of current and accurate club membership lists to assist the board in carrying out one of its primary responsibilities – management and maintenance of common areas.

In his second term, Alderman indicated he wants to see through work begun as chairman of an architectural committee concerned with the design and appearances of any buildings ultimately included in the community’s capital improvements program.

Asked what he considers the greatest challenge for CA board directors, he noted it has to be “time; too little time to get everything done.” The best part of directorship is working with the membership, he added, “I love the job and I hope to be returned to it.”

Griffin, like Alderman, has served a single term on the CA board, but in previous years. Elected in late 2006, the former automotive industry executive and motorcycle dealership entrepreneur was a CA director from 2007 through 2009, officially stepping down when his wife became ill. Her health has improved, he said this week, and he now is able to return to a directorship.

If elected, Griffin said his primary objective will be to “ take part in the interfacing with CA members and to see through to fruition” whatever community capital improvements that residents support as part of the effort to ensure an active, attractive Sun City Center as it enters its second half century.

A SCC CA board seat is a hands-on management position, he asserted, not simply a passive, once-a-month-meeting situation common to corporate boards. And this fact poses the greatest challenge, especially to new directors, he added.

On the other hand, the demands are balanced by the satisfactions of being involved, of being able to contribute to decision-making and then to be part of implementing those decisions, said the former Minnesotan who relocated 13 years ago. The objectives have to be enhancing the community’s aesthetics, conveying its friendliness, promoting its clubs, Griffin summed up, and “it’s personally gratifying” to be part of that.

Formerly an Indiana high school teacher who chose SCC as home seven years ago, Keegan now is completing an unexpired term to which she was appointed a year ago. With two years of work on the community’s 50th anniversary celebrations alongside director Ann Marie LeBlanc and a year as an interim director under her belt, Keegan is looking ahead now to long range planning on behalf of residents, she told The Observer this week.

“Our (Central) campus needs help,” she noted, adding that she sees new buildings and landscaping as a priority now. However, she indicated she recognizes the entire community may not share that conviction and that serving residents is the first objective. “As a high school teacher,” she added, “I believe I have an open mind” and will be available to listen to all viewpoints.

The most taxing aspect of board director service is “more meetings and more work and more research than I anticipated,” she said. It may appear that directors assemble perhaps twice in a week – on a Monday and a Wednesday – but that doesn’t take into account “all those other meetings that don’t get mentioned” but are critical to reaching goals, she added.

An avid bridge player, Keegan noted she’s playing less these days, yet “I’m leading my best life.” Being active and involved in helping guide the community forward is the best part of service on the board, she added, and in giving that service “ I’ve kicked it (life) up a notch.”

The most recent community citizen among the candidates, Rob King, is a native Floridian who spent most of his career as a sales manager in the automotive industry in the St. Augustine-Jacksonville area. His experience as an elected officer on a volunteer board involved vice presidency as well as presidency of a Home Owners Association for five years in that locale. He resettled in SCC about a year ago.

In those capacities with the HOA he was involved in developing and maintaining “a rather strict” architectural standards code; an interest he believes also has applications in SCC. Establishing or implementing a program to deal definitively with unkempt, unsightly properties would be among his priorities as a director, if elected, he said.

The best part of such a focus on behalf of residents is the satisfaction of achieving an appealing community, boasting property values that have not been downgraded by neighboring neglected or abandoned sites, King noted. He added that, like many prospective buyers, he drove by without checking out those SCC homes for sale that were in neighborhoods where the blight of an unkempt home site was obvious.

The candidate suggested that in his experience the most burdensome part of service on a volunteer board is the frustration of not being able always “to get things done in a timely manner.” It takes discipline to clearly see the objective, he said, and yet not be able to move directly toward it because other hurdles have to be surmounted first.

 A native Californian who came to SCC from Georgia 10 years ago, Paul Sasville is seeking his first term as a CA director. Like King, he has several years of experience as a director and officer on a HOA board in California.

Sasville, who describes himself as “a voice of reason in a time of uncertainty,” is concerned about the prospect of creating debt to underwrite a capital improvements plan. His objective in his first term will be “to keep the community debt free in a declining economy,” he said. Rather than generate considerable indebtedness, even with low-interest loans, he added, the prudent path to modernization may be “improving what already exists instead of tearing down and rebuilding.”

This candidate noted that he has had three careers – as a machinist, as a sales manager and in industrial plant maintenance, lived in five states plus, over the years, bought and sold nine homes. This diversity of experience, he suggested, is helpful in meeting the chief challenge of elected board service: hearing diverse opinions and finding reasoned common ground.

That challenge also is related to a major advantage of serving on a volunteer board, he added. “The best thing is helping to keep a board in balance.”

All of the candidates are full-time and year-around SCC residents whose only absences are for short-term family vacations. CA directors are not paid.

Until the election on December 6 and 7, they will be making the rounds of various meetings and forums to introduce themselves and their platforms, beginning this week with a Meet the Candidates event at 7 PM, Wednesday (Nov. 9) , in Community Hall. They also are scheduled to join the SCC Forum Club for lunch on Thursday (Nov. 10) as well as appear at meetings next week.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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