RMA candidates offer their qualifications
Randy Jenco, left, Tom Landwehr, and Lou Lopez, candidates for the Rancho Murieta Association board of directors, answered questions at Thursday's Candidates Night.
Candidates for two positions on the Rancho Murieta Association board of directors answered questions at Candidates Night last week. Questions ranged from why the three were running to what their priorities would be as board members.
The three-year board terms run from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30, 2015. The election takes place next month.
Nominating Committee chair Tim Maybee introduced the candidates -- Tom Landwehr, Lou Lopez and incumbent Randy Jenco -- and committee members Nancy Pohll, June Koefelda and Bill Ousley. Two members of the media but no members of the public attended the event, held at the RMA Building.
The following topics were covered during the half-hour session.
Randy Jenco: "This is our home.... I would say that my biggest qualification is that I love this place, I want the best for it...."
Why they're running
Randy Jenco: "I know the history of Rancho Murieta. I know the history of the agreements between the developers and the association. I've come to know a lot of people, and if there's a question that needs answering, I know where to go to get the answer. ... We love it here, our kids grew up here. We did baseball, we've been a member at the Country Club since 1986. This is our home.... I would say that my biggest qualification is that I love this place, I want the best for it, and so I think that I will at least attempt to make all the right decisions for the good of the community."
Tom Landwehr: "I've been out here a long time too, 23 years. We moved out here when our son was 1, our daughter was born and raised out here. We've done all the carpooling, local Little League, basketball leagues. They were both big swimmers and water polo players, but we had to commute for all that, and it looks like the swimmers and water polo players will still have to commute for that. I won't go into that. ...
"Ten years ago I was on the RMA board. That was back in some unusual times. There was actually a developer getting ready to purchase the property from PTF. ... Unfortunately, back at that time, I could only stay on the board for a little over a year, just commitments with my kids at the time. ... Now we're empty-nesters, so now I have plenty of time.
"I'm real involved with recreation. I love the trails out here. I'd like to see the river to be more accessible, the way it used to be. ...
"I know we're in some tough economic times and I'd like to work with RMA to reduce some costs, and I have some plans for that, too."
Lou Lopez: "I'm a transplant from Orange County. I started a police career, over 30 years in Anaheim Police Department. During the time I was a police officer, I was on the board of directors and got my feet wet on negotiations, and I really enjoyed that. ... My children were going to school, I was interested in the local school system so I ran successfully for the Anaheim school district board of education, eventually becoming the president.
"...I have a lot of experience on budgets. We had some old schools in Anaheim, so kind of what was going on in Rancho Murieta that's a community that's over 30 years old and there's a lot of things to be done and I feel that my experience would be a benefit to the RMA board.
"When I moved up here in 2000, I was working initially for Sacramento Job Corps ... where we have young men and women who had never been arrested but are basically homeless, get a high school diploma, some kind of vocation ... and while there I was elected president of the federated teachers association. ...
"We used to make trips up to Jackson, my wife and I, and we stopped here, oh, probably four, four-and-a-half years ago, to have pizza. ... We were just amazed by how relaxed people were, driving their golf carts, and this is great. We have a lot of crime down in Sacramento so eventually we purchased a home up here, got elected to the board of directors of the townhouse association, and I'm pleased to say that we just voted on our budget ... and because of counting our pennies and saving money, we were not only able to not raise dues ... but to reduce it a modest $2....
"I'm running for the RMA because it's in my blood, I enjoy doing it, I enjoy working with people, and see what I can do. My kids and my visitors call it 'the resort.'"
Tom Landwehr: "I love the parks out here and all the trails. ... I use the bike trails and running trails and paths and lakes all the time. So the committee I would be most interested in would probably be maybe the Facilities and Rec Committee...."
Committee preferences and involvement
Jenco: "I've chaired (the Maintenance) committee for the last three years, and before that, I was on that committee for many years. It suits me because I love to build things, it's what I do for a living. Maintenance has projects that we do at the parks, and it's an interesting group of people that we work with. ... Anybody that is interested in serving, I would definitely recommend ... getting involved. ... It's fun to get together in a group like that and try to accomplish things."
Landwehr: "I'm currently on the Maintenance Committee right now. In the past I've served on the Parks Committee for the RMA representation, and also Facilities and Rec. I'm more of an outdoors type of person. I love the parks out here and all the trails. ... I use the bike trails and running trails and paths and lakes all the time. So the committee I would be most interested in would probably be maybe the Facilities and Rec Committee, but it might not be available ... so whatever falls into my lap, I'd be more than happy to take it on.
"I never really saw that much problems getting people involved. There seemed to be already active members on those committees when you step in as the chairperson, and then usually word of mouth speads and you'd usually be able to get good representation."
Lopez: "I'd like to serve on the Compliance, Grievance and Safety Committee. With my law enforcement experience, I believe that the number one priority is to make this a safe community to live in. I first moved to Natomas. ... It was a new community. ... It's a pretty rough area. ... They've had robberies and homicides. ... We did live in ... a gated community. ... However, anybody could come over a wall, and they did, or sneak in behind somebody else. ... I just didn't feel it was a safe environment. That's one of the reasons why we moved to Rancho Murieta. We were impressed that we had to go through the gate, very professional security personnel at the gate. I've been impressed with all the security personnel. ... I've been involved in compliance, grievances and safety as a police officer. ... We have the CC&Rs here. In Anaheim, we have the city ordinances....
"Personally, I think Security's doing a great job with what they have working. If I was on that committee, I would, hopefully, and I'm sure they already do, meet with CSD quarterly, maybe have input from the Sheriff's Department, and just keep talking about what can we do. The most recent issue, the DUI issues, and I'm glad that we're trying to get involved in that."
Lou Lopez: "Thank God, the Security was there immediately, they took control of the situation as I would have done as a police officer."
Expectations for the Community Services District
Landwehr: "I think CSD is currently doing a great job. I know the DUI thing is a hot button, but I'll leave that to attorneys and others. ... I think CSD is doing a good job with security. You know, money's tight, so, sure, we'd love to see more patrol cars patrolling the back lakes, etc, but with the budget that they have, I think they do a great job."
Lopez: "They're doing a great job. I have some personal experience with crime. In August ... a group of young men, and apparently they were intoxicated. I was in my garage ... heard some commotion, and apparently what was going on is one of these young men was causing some vandalism to some plants. The 70-year-old neighbor came out and the suspect attacked him, and a lot of rolling on the ground, the individual eventually broke away and came into my garage. ... Using my past experience in law enforcement, I was able to get him out in the street. He got in another fight. Thank God, the Security was there immediately, they took control of the situation as I would have done as a police officer. They put the young man in custody, put him in the security unit, controlled the situation. Did a great job, very, very professional. Took about an hour for the Sheriff's Department to get there, and eventually the young man was arrested."
Jenco: "I'm satisfied with the job that Security is doing to enforce our rules. We're not running for CSD board here, and I'm certainly no expert in law enforcement, but I do have an opinion. I'm satisfied, but I think that they're falling down a bit in one area and that is I don't believe that the Security officers have the respect of our kids. And I've been around our kids forever, and I think that they can improve how they deal with the youth around here if they would just interact a little bit more, and somehow find some common ground, some way of getting together and just meeting each other as people, instead of the impression that our kids have of our Security officers right now."
Why they want to serve
Lopez: "Because I live here. My wife and I moved here, we're raising our granddaughter, who's a great joy, she attends Cosumnes elementary school, and I think it's important that the community get involved. I'm pretty much retired, I still do a little work as a private investigator, but basically I'm retired. Every morning, I ride my bike around the lakes and the property. ... We walk the trails, I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy that resort atmosphere. I really enjoy it, and I believe that with my past experience in being on different boards ... I want to be part of continuing to make Rancho Murieta a place where families can live.
Jenco: "I'd like to continue as a board member because I enjoy it. I wouldn't be running here if I didn't enjoy what we do. ... I like the little projects that we take on. We've got the big one coming up here with the new entrance and the new gate house, and I would really like to be a part of that because I have some visions of what the entrance to Rancho Murieta should look like. I've done some research and seen some things -- Granite Bay and Palm Springs, beautiful places. And I think that people will be surprised at what we can do with the amount of money that's now in escrow to do that project. I think it's going to be amazing and I would like to be a part of that."
Landwehr: "I've always been raised to give back to the community. ... Ten years ago, I did resign and I still feel bad about that. And ironically, 10 years ago, we were working on the North Gate ... and here, 10 years (later), I get a chance to possibly complete that project that was started many years ago. It's basically giving back to a great community. I did that too ... as a member of the Country Club, on the Greens Committee for numerous years."
Priorities and challenges for RMA
Jenco: "The priority for me is getting the front gate built. Now that that money is in escrow, I think it's just a matter of time before we do get that.
"I think our challenges in the next few years are going to be the same challenges that we've had the last couple years, and that's in the changing dynamics of the developers in Rancho Murieta. It's very difficult to do a project like the front gate when you don't know who you're dealing with. And right now with the Pension Trust Fund trying to sell the property, they're not really willing to cooperate, there is no other owner. We've got a few owners here on the North that may not even be in business any more. We're having trouble getting participation at the Parks Committee level, and none of the developers are looking to build anything right now, so they're not all that enthusiastic about spending a lot of time in Rancho Murieta. So that's just making our job a little bit more difficult to get things done. And I would consider that to be the main challenge in the coming years is trying to get things done without the assistance or cooperation of the developers."
Landwehr: "One, move forward with the North Gate and actually complete it. The main thing is we're in tough economic times and this was the first year I can remember that the current board kept the dues as is, without a raise like 5, 10 percent. ... I have some ideas on reducing costs. One of them is you got a lot of grass area out here and most of it's just decorative. And to replace that grass area with maybe drought-resistant landscaping that takes a lot less maintenance, a lot less water -- RMA's the biggest fresh-water user out here -- and a lot of that grass area could be turned over and save a substantial amount of money. Also, some of that grass area could also be irrigated with reclaimed water like the Country Club uses. CSD is basically throwing away reclaimed water that can be used for irrigation. I own an environmental consulting company and I'm well aware on areas where you can use reclaimed water and where you can't use reclaimed water. So you gotta work with CSD, work with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and pick and choose those areas. ... And then also with future development out here, I'd like to see them when they go into roads ... and trenches, to put in the purple pipe for reclaimed water for household irrigation. And also I'd like to push forward ... in those same trenches, utilities for future natural gas. I'd like to get PG&E, and finally get some natural gas out here. Heating costs out here are substantially high, either propane or electricity. It would be nice to have that as an alternative out here."
Lopez: "Maintenance is really important. We're an aging community. I've talked to folks ... who have been here 25-30 years and they remember when ... the water in the lakes was clear and it's not now. We need to really spend some money on keeping our grounds, our common area, looking 100 percent all the time. ... I think it's important that if you maintain the grounds, it sends a message to the residents and to visitors, and to individuals, young people, who may be thinking about vandalism, that this is not the place, it's not acceptable. So we need to find the money to number one, work with CSD on lakes, ... to work on the common areas, maybe to do some trimming the bushes and cutting the lawn a little bit more."
Landwehr: "I think RMA does a great job already communicating with the community. ... (Meetings) are televised, agendas are posted. ... I really don't see much in the way of an improvement on that."
Lopez: "I think the directors are doing a great job. The meetings are ... taped, we can watch them 24/7, and they remind people, they have reports on different committees and when they meet. ... People want to know what's going on ... all they have to do is turn on the TV ... and the information is there. ... It appears to be that there is a lot of participation."
Jenco: "I think we're all in agreement. I don't know that there's much more that we can do besides televising the meetings, and everything's in the paper and on dot-com. What is it? 'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.' We have to realize that there are people in our community, just like every other community, that just aren't all that interested in the association except for how much it costs them and is the grass green. We see that all the time in our voting and trying to get a quorum. ... The information is out there. If people are interested in our community, they can find the information."