Ryan Stanton, rstanton@ExplorerNews.com
Nov. 2, 2005 - Three newcomers and two incumbents will serve on the seven-member Continental Ranch homeowners board for the next two years.
Almost 1,000 residents voted to decide who would fill the five open seats this past month, election officials announced at the Continental Ranch Community Association's annual meeting last week.
Newcomer Shane Swanson, who received 662 votes, said he was shocked to learn he received more voter support than any Marana town council member has in the past six years.
"That's frightening," he said. "I didn't even get a good chance to campaign and really sit down and talk with people."
At 34, Swanson is the youngest member of the board. He said he sought election this year after he and his wife went to a homeowners meeting where a large majority of the people in attendance were senior citizens.
"That really kind of motivated me to stand up and say, 'Hey, this isn't right. We need to get young people involved in this community and get them motivated to take responsibility on making decisions that affect them,'" he said.
Swanson, a computer security auditor, said he thinks the association has lost touch with its younger residents and hopes to bring that voice back to the table.
"With young families in particular, it's very difficult for all of us to find time to get away to come to a board meeting," he said. "While that's a reality, they still deserve a voice in the community."
Volunteers spent five hours Oct. 25 counting 974 ballots before the annual meeting at Coyote Trails Elementary School. The voter turnout is about twice as high as the average number of Marana residents who participated in the last two Marana Town Council elections, which some said is a sign that residents are more concerned about their neighborhood than they are about their town.
The 4,000 or so homes under the governance of Continental Ranch's homeowners association count for less than half of the residents living in Marana.
Newcomer Gunter Haussler, 65, has lived in Continental Ranch for 11 years and was elected last week after serving on the association's finance and landscaping committees. A Raytheon retiree and a native of Germany, Haussler said he hopes to improve relations with the community and make Continental Ranch a leading example to other homeowners associations.
Another newcomer, Walter Ross, has been active in the community by serving as chairman of the association's strategic planning committee. Under his guidance, the association has begun remodeling the cramped community center on Coachline Boulevard, where walls are being knocked down to allow more space for meetings.
Ross received the second most votes last week, with 799 cast in his favor. His peers appointed him second vice president last week.
The newcomers replace outgoing Board President Larry Schoof and outgoing Vice President Bruce Candland, who did not seek re-election. Board member Sandy Shkolnick was unsuccessful in an attempt at re-election and expressed disappointment afterward that she lost to Swanson, who many board members didn't know.
"I'll probably run again next time. I won't give up," said Shkolnick, a 12-year resident of Continental Ranch, who spent nine years on the covenants committee before joining the board last year. She's also heading up a task force to address how the association should handle rental units in Continental Ranch.
Russell Clanagan, 58, who became the association's new president last week, was successful in his attempt at re-election. He garnered 898 votes, the most of any of the seven candidates.
A Continental Ranch resident of nine years, Clanagan serves as chairman of Marana's planning and zoning commission and is the transportation manager for the Arizona State School for the Deaf and the Blind. He's also a former Pennsylvania state trooper and former police chief for the Tohono O'odham Nation.
The voter turnout for last week's election says a lot about the voting power Continental Ranch has in Marana, Clanagan said, adding, "That sends a message that we do have a voting block here and we do have a say in the future of our community."
Board members Jan Mann, 69, and Nicole Glasner, 35, are serving staggered terms that were not up for re-election last week.
Glasner, a stay-at-home mom who has lived in Continental Ranch for three years, joined the board last year after serving as chairwoman of the association's activities committee. She was appointed treasurer last week.
Mann, a retired nurse from Chicago, has lived in Continental Ranch for nine years and has served four years on the board. She was appointed first vice president.
Mann said her focus this year will be completing the remodeling of the community center, irrigation system upgrades and prioritizing a budget for next year. The association has approved a 17 percent increase in dues in the last two years to keep up with projects in its budgets.
"This year is going to be tight. You can't ask for everything and get it," she said. "This year, we're going to have priorities."
At the meeting, several board members encouraged homeowners to join the various committees that oversee operations in Continental Ranch. The eight committees that meet regularly are: landscaping, finance, activities, facilities, strategic planning, pool, covenants and architectural review.
Linda Grzesik, chairwoman of the finance committee, said she'd like to see more volunteers help out who have a financial background.
"This association runs wonderfully. It runs smoothly," said board member Sharon Dvorkin-Soloctky, who was appointed secretary. "If you want your community to maintain the integrity that it has, join a committee."
Dvorkin-Soloctky, a 62-year-old retired realtor from Chicago, received 632 votes last week to maintain her spot on the board. She lives in the age-restricted community of Sunflower, but says her intent is to make decisions based on how the majority of Continental Ranch residents feel.
One Sunflower resident said she wondered why 5.5 percent of Continental Ranch's budget is collected from her community, which she doesn't think receives much for the $68,173 its residents pay.
Another Continental Ranch resident said he was concerned about the noise coming from traffic along Silverbell Road. He questioned why talks of decreasing the speed limit or adding rubberized pavement have been ongoing for years but no action has been taken.
Several residents raised concerns related to crime in the community, noting an increase in vandalism. One resident said she's seen homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks numerous times and had to call the police.
Other residents said they fear the community is becoming inundated with rental units. One resident told the audience that she lives near a string of homes that are being rented to tenants who have been the subject of police drug raids. In one of the houses, she said, there have been problems involving illegal immigrants.
Clanagan said he hopes to create a new community liaison to the town, with public safety being a priority. If Continental Ranch residents knock on the right doors, he said, "they will be opened."