Candidates raise key SC issues at recent forum

On August 7, an extraordinary event occurred in Sun City.

A group of 10 candidates seeking election to the community’s board of directors held a forum on leadership issues in an active adult community. About 300 residents attended.

There were no angry allegations expressed about anyone, no accusations, no finger-pointing or blaming, no insults, few negative thoughts. There was a little bit of gentle criticism, a lot of suggestions with new ideas, and an upbeat tone throughout.

Inside the Beltway (Washington DC), there is turmoil and division. In Sun City Huntley, there is unity and cooperation. Plus a revitalized volunteerism, which is vital to the current and future management and development of the community.

In this year’s election, Sun City residents will select four of the 10 candidates to serve on the community’s seven-member governing board beginning January 1, 2018. The four top vote-getters will join holdover board members Dennis O’Leary, Bob McGouey, and Marilynn Berendt. All four will serve two-year terms.

Ballots are being mailed to each household in Sun City early this month. They must be returned by mail to the firm administering the election balloting by October 16. The results will be announced shortly thereafter. Gene Harrison, chairman of the election committee, stressed this point.

“The ballots must be received by the company administering the ballot count no later than October 16,” he said. 

Here, in ballot format, is the list of candidates as their names will appear:

— Vito Benigno
— Bob Wainscott, incumbent seeking re-election
— Steve Bytnar, incumbent seeking re-election
— Ron Howard
— Rick Sperando
— Donald Kay
— Ken Andersen, former board member seeking to return to the board
— Sandra Portincaso
— Dennis Watts
— Gene Rhodes, former board member

The forum was sponsored by the community’s Neighborhood Advisory Council and the Election Advisory Committee. The candidates were asked several questions, here are their answers to two of them: What are the two biggest challenges facing Sun City, and how would they address them. There was general agreement among the candidates that, while there are no difficult, costly, or controversial problems facing Sun City, there are some things that need to be addressed.

Here are a few sound bites describing their responses:

(listed here in order they were spoken at the forum)

Howard: “Two biggest challenges are maintaining amenities and building a strong financial reserve. We should explore the use of solar power for energy, listen to other communities like ours, strengthen volunteerism, and develop more of a response to natural disasters and increase emergency preparedness.”

Watts: “The biggest praise I have for Sun City, and my biggest concern, is volunteerism.  We need a big event every year so new and older resident scan meet with clubs and neighborhoods.”

Bytnar: “The community website needs work to make it something residents want to use; we need a five-year mission plan, and we need to provide for emerging and expanding activities like pickleball.”

Anderson: “We need to separate the annual budget and reserve account more, we are approaching 20 years old and we need to review our reserve account and we need to study all of our resources and documents. Our governing documents were established in 1999 and we need a thorough review of them to make sure they are current and relevant.”

Benigno: “The big challenge is to address changing needs of the community, we need to be problem solvers, we need to work with our partners like Centegra, and our clubs and neighborhoods to keep them viable.”

Rhodes: “We need to improve our efforts to help people, and develop more of a ‘help’ philosophy with our clubs and neighborhoods.”

Wainscott: “We need a strategic plan to serve current residents and attract new ones. We need to improve communication to residents, especially at open meetings.”

Sperando: “We need to improve our communications focus, and get answers to problems quicker. We need to maintain cost levels while maintaining quality. I think the current board does an excellent job fore our $134 a month.”

Portincaso: “We need to look at allocation of space in lodges to match needs, and to explore and develop plans for expansion where needed. I’d like to explore development of a community bus service.”

Kay: “We need to address issues on the basis of what is good for all residents, we need to make sure our decisions are financially sound, and we need to maintain a communication focus.”

On a question about board responses to resident questions and concerns at meetings, the candidates generally agreed this is an issue that needs to be improved. Bytnar suggested greater use of the website and Lifestyles magazine to provide responses. Sperando suggested publishing questions and answers in all media. Andersen said answers need to be provided  before the next board meeting. Portincaso suggested addressing the questions at new resident meetings. Watts suggested “coffee with the board” events and the publishing of questions and answers on the website.

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