On July 8, 2014, a “Meet the Candidates” meeting was held in the Waterwood clubhouse. The event was organized by Jim Clement, the only candidate running for mayor. 23 people were present, including all the candidates running for alderman positions except for David Tremblay.
Inside the clubhouse, chairs were arranged in a wide oval allowing an open view of everyone in the room and not really establishing a leader of the group. The meeting was started off with candidates introducing themselves one by one moving clockwise around the room. Here is a brief summary:
- Micki Ball – Wants to see changes in the community.
- Cathleen Recio – Did not get communication about incorporation. Wants to be involved to get answers.
- Dale Burmaster – Knows there will be restrictions and wants to keep them to a minimum.
- Pedro Orduno – Has been on the Waterwood POA, vice president of the POA, and says the community needs police, animal control, and trash collection.
- Earnest Gay – Wants to keep tax and spending low. Also wants ordinances to be minimal and enforceable.
- Douglas Tomasini – Wants to make the community nice for kids and a nice place to retire. And wants low taxes.
- Joel Ortega – Wants to inform the people and represent the Hispanic community.
Jim Clement explained that he had lived in the community for 26 years and said “We all want the same thing, which is getting this city to go!”
The room was then asked why the Committee to Incorporate Sandy Oaks (CISO) did not announce the deadline to apply to run for office. Burmaster, Orduno, Gay, Tomasini, Ortega, and Clement are all members of the Sandy Oaks Political Action Committee and SOPAC was created by CISO. Besides the 5 on SOPAC, only 3 others are running for city council positions.
On April 24, 2014 CISO held an information meeting about incorporation and, after being directly asked, CISO stated that they would announce the deadline to apply to run for office so that everyone in the community had the opportunity. But the deadline passed on June 26th without any information from CISO being sent to the community.
In answer to the question about the deadline, Jim Clement , vice-chair of CISO and running unopposed for mayor, replied “Why should we have announced it? It’s people’s own responsibility to know.”
Audience members then started to speak out about not knowing about the incorporation process or the vote that took place in May. Clement explained that postcards were sent out to people, but only to registered voters and only 1 voter per household.
Aubrey San Miguel, sitting on the opposite side of the room, didn’t hear Clement’s comment about postcards and stated that he was never informed. At this, Earnest Gay turned around in his seat and demanded in a loud and domineering voice that was just short of yelling “Well are you a registered voter?!” When San Miguel said he wasn’t, Gay followed up with “Then you don’t get to know!”
Micki Ball spoke up from across the room to San Miguel and said “Sir, see me after the meeting, I have a voter’s registration card you can fill out!”
Early voting for the new council begins Monday, July 28.
Art Martinez de Vara then stood up to explain the process of creating a city government. Martinez de Vara is the mayor of Von Ormy and was one of the people who pushed for Von Ormy to be incorporated as a city. He’s also the legal adviser to SOPAC and CISO and is on retainer for the Waterwood POA. He discussed how the future city council would need to adopt rules of order, an official location and time to hold meetings, a procedure for creating and posting agendas for meetings, and how the future mayor and 2 aldermen will have 2 year terms and how the other 3 aldermen would have a 1 year term.
Because the meeting was no longer being led by any of the future leaders of the community, Martinez de Vara began having to address questions from the audience. One major question was about the $180 maintenance fee that Waterwood residents pay to the Waterwood Development company. During incorporation, CISO focused much of its efforts around the goal of getting the fee eliminated. Martinez de Vara announced that the Waterwood POA had entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding with the developer and that the fee would be turned over to the community some time in January. But Jim Clement, president of the POA, and Martinez de Vara refused to discuss the topic any further.
The group was then asked how they expected to gain enough money to run the city. Art Martinez de Vara said that CISO had done an assessment some time before incorporation and he went into detail of how the city could bring in $500,000 in revenue. Click here to read the details.
Much of the meeting was accompanied by the low grumblings of Jim Clement, who seemed upset that so many people were asking questions about issues. But as the meeting came to a close his anger turned to shock when Micki Ball announced an invitation to all candidates for a meeting with County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez about a CDBG grant. The meeting was to take place the next day.
Outside, when the meeting was over, Aubrey San Miguel simply said “I felt like I was barked at like I was just some dog. I’m not voting for that man or his friends.”
Early voting starts July 28 and ends August 5. The official day of election is August 9, 2014.