Why do we need Term Limits?
This is an update to our older article about term limits, which can be found here.
On July 15, HOA Board Vice President Gary Reny had a letter to the editor printed in the Ahwatukee Foothills News in which he made the following assertion:
"Sadly, the reform group had a hidden and cloaked agenda which was to oust our Association President Bill Fautsch and our association Treasurer Sandi Salvo because of differences in style and nuance."
In fact, we make our agenda very clear in our Mission Statement:
"To strengthen the management of the Foothills Community Association HOA, including increasing transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to the interests of the Association's members."
Our reform package is based on five problems that were prominently displayed at Board meetings last summer. They are designed to promote institutional reforms to further the goals of our Mission Statement and to heal the divisions within our HOA.
It should be visible to all by now that those divisions are not between the members. The divisions are between the members and the Board.
One of the five elements of the reform package is term limits for Board directors. Some Board directors have held power for many years, well over a decade in some cases. They have developed a governing style that has divided them from the HOA members that they are supposed to represent.
The healing process requires that the Board be infused with new directors with new ideas. Without Board directors committed to truly represent the members, the positive impact of the other four reforms will not be fully realized.
Term limits is a profoundly American tradition, and it is as old as our country. George Washington led by example when he stepped down after two terms. His wisdom has been enshrined in the Constitution by the 22nd Amendment. In Arizona, not only do we have term limits on the chief executive, the Governor, we also have term limit on members of the legislature.
In crafting the term limits proposal in the reform package, we carefully considered the reality of our HOA so as to get maximum benefit with negligible downside.
Board directors are not elected all at once. They have staggered terms, with 3 elected one year and 4 the next. This guarantees at least some degree of continuity and institutional memory.
The reform package provides that directors can serve two consecutive terms. This could lead to greater continuity and institutional memory.
The reform package also allows directors to run for an additional two terms after sitting out a year.
During that ‘cooling off’ year, an ex-director can of course continue to be involved with the HOA. The Bylaws even allow the Board to appoint members not elected to the Board to be HOA officers.
In practice, this means that the incoming Board could re-appoint Sandi as the HOA’s Treasurer if it wanted, whether or not she was elected to the Board.
Moreover, the Board has additional resources such as the management company and the law firm that it can fall back on.
The bottom line is that there is negligible cost to having term limits, and great benefits from bringing in new directors with fresh ideas.
To answer directly Gary’s assertion that the reform effort is secretly focused on removing Bill and Sandi, we say categorically that that is false.
In fact, we have known since March 20 that Bill would not seek re-election, and this has not had any impact whatsoever on our efforts.
If Sandi were to announce she would not run, that would not affect our efforts either.
We are not focused on individual personalities. We seek institutional reforms that ensure the long-term success of our HOA.
The fact that the Board directors are fighting the reforms so ferociously to block term limits should be a big red flag for all HOA members.
We firmly believe that the periodic replacement of leaders, ensured in this case by term limits, is an indispensable component of good governance. Period.