January 29, 2010
First came the Massachusetts Miracle and a Republican won Ted Kennedy’s old seat. Now the Woodmoor Improvement Association has dethroned its controversial president George McFadden, electing an opposition slate of candidates.
In a landslide.
Woodmoor resident Carolyn Streit-Carey, a political novice who helped orchestrate the coup, calls the election victory “one of the high points of my life.”
The upheaval at the WIA is an example of what can happen when folks angry about their homeowners association board unite and decide to take control.
It can happen anywhere if it can happen at Woodmoor, one of the largest HOAs in Colorado with 3,000 homeowners in the woods east of Monument.
But the election was easy compared to what comes next . . . trying to unify a sharply divided community.
True, the slate of Nick Oakley, Paul Lambert and Jim Hale won a decisive victory over the McFadden-endorsed group of Bill Brendemuhl, Gary Marner and George Labesky. The victors averaged 650 or so votes each to just 420 or so each for the losers.
So it was far from unanimous. Clearly, McFadden had support for his overhaul of the WIA, for the community parties he organized, the new rules he imposed and his handling of the professional staff that manages the neighborhood.
So, how will the new president, Chuck Maher, govern?
“We are going to give people an opportunity to say what’s on their mind,” Maher said. “We are going to survey the community. Find out what their needs are. Let them air their grievances. And then we are going to operate in the open.”
Critics of McFadden accused him of squelching opposition and hiding board actions. They cite the decision to spend $20,000 to build trails and a parking lot at a neighborhood marsh. It generated a furor among some residents and they felt ignored.
McFadden, who remains on the board with two allies, did not return calls seeking comment.
Maher said accountability and transparency are keys to winning over those who liked McFadden and Co.
“It will be a tough thing to bridge,” Maher said of the rift in Woodmoor. “But we elected some really talented people. We’ll get there.”
Maher said he will continue some McFadden policies.
“There was some nuts and bolts stuff they did well,” he said. “And they made a good attempt to get the community more involved by hosting community parties. The parties weren’t a bad idea, just the amount of money they spent on them.”
And, perhaps most importantly, folks like Streit-Carey promise to stay involved.
“Now the real work starts,” she said. “Our group will remain active. We’re going to stand behind our candidates and support them.”
She wouldn’t dare relax now.
“We have to stay involved,” she said. “Next year, McFadden runs for re-election.”
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