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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Ballots due back next Thursday in Ocean Pines

(July 30, 2015) Members of the Ocean Pines Association have many options when it comes to this year’s board of directors race. Seven candidates are vying for two positions on the board, with the top two vote getters earning three-year terms.
Ballots were mailed on July 7, and must be mailed back by next Thursday.
For two-time board member Bill Zawacki, this year’s election is all about the community’s financial situation.
“OPA is a nonprofit corporation, meaning we should end each year with zero profit – and zero loss,” he said, adding that Ocean Pines lost $182,000 during the previous fiscal year. 
“Our spending was totally out of control,” Zawacki said. “Every department overspent except public works/CPI and general maintenance; two where overspending might be a good thing.”
The impact of the losses, Zawacki said, is higher assessments for the membership.
“The general manager bears operational responsibility, but the board of directors has not fulfilled its policy setting and oversight responsibilities,” he said. “I have emerged as the one independent candidate, not assisted by sitting directors, not supported financially by real estate developers and not by special interest group advertising. I have the experience, education, background and desire to represent all of the Ocean Pines membership.”
Terri Mohr, another former director, said all of the candidates share the goal of protecting property values and all would “bring admirable life and work experience to the board.”
“A few candidates, myself included, have voiced concern with the lack of civility and respect by some members of the current board of directors with the general manager, OPA members and with each other, as witnessed during this past year’s board meetings,” she said. “While this may not seem like a big issue, this disrespect can hamper communication and forward-moving progress of very important issues.”
As an example Mohr cited the collapse of negotiations with Sandpiper.
“I was on the board when these negotiations began and had the process been allowed to continue, I am confident we would have a solid contract in hand,” she said. “One year later, contract talks came to a screeching halt. Fortunately, we are again on track with [General Manager] Bob Thompson taking the lead. It’s embarrassing to say the least.”
Mohr, who is advocating a change in leadership, said, “The citizens of Ocean Pines deserve leaders that value integrity, honesty, accountability of actions, civility and commitment. “It is your voice, your choice and most importantly, your vote.”
Newcomer Carol Ludwig said her campaign focused on identifying with fellow homeowners, including residents and nonresidents.
“It was very important to me to maintain my independence as a candidate, answering questions and giving opinions based on the current and first-hand information that comes from volunteering to address association member issues as part of advisory committees or task force groups over the past 15 years,” she said.
“Though challenging at times, it has been my goal to avoid endorsements or suggested groupings of any kind so that, if elected, the only special interest group I have to answer to are the members of the Ocean Pines Association, being obligated to make decisions in the best interest of our community and within the responsibilities given to the board of directors,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig called her candidacy, “a commitment to my respect for professionalism, positive thinking and the well-proven process of planning ahead for our continued success while maintaining our expectations as residents of Worcester County.”
Thomas Herrick said his campaign concentrated on three themes: to modify amenity policies and user fees to encourage growth, membership, and participation; to implement a more effective approach to maintaining and improving infrastructure; and to, “make a plea to our association members to choose very carefully who they elect to represent them on the board of directors.”
“The amenity policy of our association directs the [board of directors] to set fees that are to provide association members and their guests added value when compared to competing facilities and services in the area,” Herrick said.
“This policy is currently not being followed. Our amenity policies must be amended to make them more attractive, affordable, and enjoyable for all our members and their guests. By increasing member participation we will encourage that ‘sense of community’ feeling we deserve by being part of a HOA.”
On infrastructure Herrick said, “Constant studies and surveys do not produce results.”
“We, as a community, know what needs to be done,” he said. “It is time to take action and bring our facilities and infrastructure up to the standards we are entitled to.”
Finally, Herrick said the community cannot tolerate directors who serve special interests or who reflect the agenda of an association minority.
“This represents a disservice to the entire community,” he said. “Our board members need to be tolerant of the unique diversity of our community by supporting and protecting every association member’s interest, in a reasonable manner, with the best interest of the entire community in mind. I consider myself an independent candidate that will pursue these goals, and will do so in a courteous and professional manner.”
Slobodan Trendic said he decided to run again this year because of what he said was th loss of confidence in some board members and the general manager.  
“My campaign has been focused on offering to represent all part-time and full-time home owners who feel the same,” he said. “At the board level, some of the big problems are raising HOA dues and amenity fees, no contract yet to bring natural gas to OP, bloated reserve fund and a wrong approach used to finance capital projects.”
Trendic said the general manager continues to underperform in critical areas, including budgeting, infrastructure, information technology and the yacht club, which he said has, “costly design mistakes and continuing financial losses.”
“Many community members are telling me that business as usual is no longer acceptable,” he said. “These are the members who are interested in my candidacy. They want the board that is capable of overcoming any differences, willing to build consensus and embrace community’s common goals.
Ray Unger, a former director who served twice, said he is running to, “maintain common sense on the board.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the board,” he said. “Some people, after a year, say, ‘that’s enough, I’m tired of it.’ But I don’t think there are any major issues that we have to worry about at the moment.”
Without multimillion dollar projects like the yacht club looming on the horizon, Unger believes the job of the next director will be relatively simple.
“I enjoyed my time as director,” he said. “I had a lot of fun. It’s not that difficult of a thing to do. It’s not a punishing job at all, it’s just something that has to be done.”
 Cheryl Jacobs, currently the assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore City, said the central themes of her campaign have been protecting the investment of the homeowners, providing a fresh face to voters and being a true independent on a board often accused of extreme partisanship.
“I am so thrilled and honored that so many people have reached out to me at social events, by email and in their homes to give me their endorsement and tell me how happy they are that I decided to run,” she said. “People have requested my signs, my handouts and worn stickers on their clothes saying: ‘Vote for Jacobs.’”
Jacobs said her message appears to be resonating with voters.
“I am so thankful to the many people who have helped me with their time, energy and advice,” she said. “I certainly cannot predict the outcome, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic and hope that I will be elected, as I am prepared to work hard for all of the people in Ocean Pines.”
Officials will count the votes on Aug. 7 and announce the results during the annual meeting, on Aug. 8, at 10 a.m. in the community center.