Election 2022 - VOTING DEADLINE IS AUG. 10

2022 Annual Meeting as a Hybrid

From the Ocean Pines Elections Committee:

Voting results will be validated (assuming there is a quorum) during the Annual Meeting on Saturday, Aug. 13, starting at 9 a.m. in the Assateague Room of the Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway. Per Ocean Pines Bylaws, a quorum of members collectively eligible to cast at least 100 votes is required to conduct business.

This year, to make it easy for members who cannot be physically present to attend, the Association for the first time will allow hybrid participation during the annual meeting. Homeowners can take part either in person or online.

To join online, use the invite link https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_YjI1YzM2OGQtMDcwZS00NzMxLWI5M2YtNzMyZThmZjEwMjU3%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22625a6322-2b2f-40fa-94f8-d7dd44d78153%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%221bbee60b-d4e0-49eb-b4c6-d257cae7f063%22%7d.

Online attendees must use their Ocean Pines property address as their login name.

After logging in, users will be asked to show a valid ID on camera. A member of the Ocean Pines Elections Committee will verify the user is eligible to vote.
Members may participate and/or vote as needed, and votes will be tracked by members of the Ocean Pines Elections Committee.

Members who plan to attend should register online or in-person by
8:45 a.m.

*For questions about the election, email elections@oceanpines.org or call 410-208-3989.
 

Candidate Forum Videos

First Candidate Forum: June 22, 2022


Second Candidate Forum: June 25, 2022
 

2022 Candidate information

Paula Gray

Email: pjgray180@gmail.com
 

Introductory statement

A broad brush resume of Paula Gray:  Resident of Ocean Pines, wife, mother, grandmother!

Retired Railroad Yardmaster (32 years) a position that required diligence, daily planning, and decision making along with a myriad of interactions with Federal agencies, corporate departments, State and Local governments, as well as customers large and small (Ex: UPS at Christmas and Mom/Pops waiting for basics).  I enjoyed the interactions and common ground findings with every level people including personnel planning, training learning respect for diverse and conflicting opinions.  Along way various volunteer positions: Treasurer and then President Friends of Downs Park (nonprofit-4 years/volunteer); women's Prisoner educational program; appointed by Governor Schaefer Foster Care Review Board (serving children in peril); Little league volunteer, 12 years; UMBC graduate, member American Assn University Women, OP Womens' Club; Mensa; current National Aquarium Sealo Steard volunteer; Stem volunteer Middle School girls – I have always worked within and for my community. 
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

First, would be to continue the positive path that began only a few years ago. Ocean Pines is now a very active and diverse place to live with amenities coming into their own and prospering; with committees working very hard to improve and enhance this community; and to increase the participation of more residents – both new and old. Change is always happening and hopefully I could successfully work with the Board to advance and extend this success! It will be important to use all of the ideas and abilities of all of us to keep this process effective and without controversy.

Secondly, I would work to improve the direct information flow from the Board and the Association to our residents. Over and over the remarks are made that no answers every come back from the Board. Now lots of information' is out there, from long standing sights to the newer ones data, dates and direct responses from the Board can get Lost in the interpretations, perhaps well meaning, and unofficial postings on sights with their own agendas. It would be extremely beneficial to the Board's operations If a more direct and easily accessed sight/process could be found.

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

For many years the Pines financial picture was, if not bleak, perhaps unusual and appeared to be on path to almost insolvency. While that might sound melodramatic, little or no input had been made in our infrastructure, our amenities and our ability to create a profitable, functioning community. Since what I shall refer to as the Viola operation as GM, we have survived and recovered from a forensic audit, a structuring of departments that permitted better utilization of our funds, completed and necessary overhauls like the Yacht Club performance, the Golf Course utilization and even an improved Police Department building. The Covid crisis didn't demolish our financial functioning and for first time in many years we all benefitted from assessment reductions. Does this sound like I believe we should "leave well Enough alone" .... Also please refer to the Board meeting in May It was announced that Mr. Viola did not resign but that was a statement by a Board member. At that same Board meeting our budget which is now fully explained at meetings shows an excellent potential to continue improvements and a possible status quo on our assessments.' I feel we need to retain current GM and Treasurer for as long as they wish to remain.!

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

Professionally and personally the usual response: New Board member "different ways of looking at something" "fresh eyes on old problems" Cliched? No because depending on perspective all amazing simple or ridiculously hard!! My work history taught me how to work with disparate groups looking at important issues that did, occasionally, have to be settled without active confrontation. My past has taught me to work in the here and now but never to abandon future needs and concerns. I would bring the Innate and elemental ability to never take Board or Association concerns to a personal level. Finally and what I consider most Importantly is that in all of my positions and jobs in life, I made every endeavor to NOT forget that I was there to represent others and never advance my own personal positions. If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I would hope to be my most important asset as a Board member is to remember I represent the residents of OP.

Amy Peck

Email: peck4pines@comcast.net
 

Introductory statement

We made a fantastic decision purchasing our Ocean Pines home in 2002. My husband, our two sons, and I have joyful memories of our twenty years here. I love this Community and I am asking for your vote so I can continue to serve. As a Director, I use the knowledge and perspective I’ve gained as a part-time now full-time owner, mom, past OP employee, new retiree, community volunteer and appointed Director.

I believe I am a highly effective, independent thinker on the current Board that works well with the entire OP team. I research, ask tough questions, and listen to the homeowners to find solutions. I brought hybrid meetings the clubhouse that increased transparency and participation. I’ve worked hard in my role as Liaison to four different committees including ENA, SPAC, Racquet and Recreation and Parks. I’m proud to be on the Board that lowered the assessment by a historic $100.00 with an almost $2-million surplus, but there is still work to be done.

Fiscally conservative, I understand smart investment and value your HOA dollars. I am a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer focused on keeping Ocean Pines an attractive, affordable, safe, and enjoyable home for everyone. #Peck4Pines
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

First, we need to focus our attention on hiring/retaining the General Manager position. The stability of Ocean Pines rests on the GM. The Board makeup changes every year, so if you want continued success and to avoid past mistakes, we need to look at the General Manager’s vision, and the Ocean Pines operations team embracing and implementing that vision, and the Board monitoring the implementation. OP needs a Board that works with the GM , not against and doesn’t micromanage. I am proud of the relationship I have built with Mr. Viola and the senior leadership team.

Another priority is to ensure the investments we have made in our homes and our community continue to grow. That means we must maintain our infrastructure and keep Ocean Pines safe. There is much to plan for on the horizon. We need to accommodate the Fire Department’s needs. Other upcoming projects include irrigation, racquet facility updates, safety initiatives, extending the life of the beach club, mailboxes and continuing our drainage work and beautification efforts. The Declarations of Restriction need revision and enforcement. I am working, feet on the ground, and ready to continue to work on these priorities.

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

Ocean Pines is in fantastic financial shape with an almost a $2-million surplus! We are increasing our reserves, maximizing revenue, lowering expenses, and making smart investments in our amenities. This stewardship contributed to a historic lowering of our HOA assessment and another 2023 predicted surplus. There is smart financial leadership with a bottom-up approach involving key staff; however, there’s always room for improvement. Let’s continue financial transparency while educating homeowners where their HOA dollars are being spent. Let’s maintain timely financial reporting but show profits/losses clearly to all homeowners. I want to work with the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department as a team making sure they provide the Board and the Community with a complete financial picture as we address OPVFD’s needs. The Board should involve the Community in the decision making by holding multiple Town Halls regarding a new or renovated Fire House. We need to plan for potential financial challenges, including rising labor and fuel costs, inflation, and possible Covid surges. I want to make sure we attract the best employees possible with competitive wages and benefits. I believe in fiscal conservative policies that value the homeowners’ investment and safety while protecting the legacy of Ocean Pines.

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

I always give 110% to the job. Using my paralegal research skills and attention to detail, I study an issue from all sides. In my decision making, I always listen to the Community and focus on what will serve Ocean Pines best. I come prepared to board meetings and work sessions and actively serve all three of my assigned Committees. I follow up and understand my role as a Director. I am a lifelong volunteer and I make sure to attend all OPA sponsored functions and volunteer my services, such as unloading Christmas trees at White Horse Park, advocating for my committees, cleaning up the South Pond, volunteering at Bay Day and Community Bike Rides and helping my neighbors. I love Ocean Pines and I have a very positive attitude. This doesn’t mean I’m unrealistic and blind to problems, but I seek solutions. I’m an independent thinker. As a Director, my first vote was me versus six, but my well-researched position regarding employee sick leave was clearly understood. I come to the job without ego or personal agenda. I have a clear understanding of what it takes to get the job done, and I am fully committed.

Stuart Lakernick

Email: bakfixer@aol.com
 

Introductory statement

I LOVE Ocean Pines and that is why I’ve been a Board candidate twice, garnering 1,511 votes last year from folks who believed in me. I possess the traits to be a successful Director: fair and cordial, with a business sense having operated a practice as a Doctor of Chiropractic since 1992. In the past two years I have attended (virtually or in-person) OP Board meetings, Town Halls and many committee meetings in order to understand the various aspects of our community. I strongly believe our Board can work together by listening to the viewpoints of the community and those of fellow Board members. I believe in transparency and will make decisions based not only my views, but with the reasoning of others. Civic Duty is important. I am a Rotarian and a Lion and have served on the board of my Rotary. In OP this past year, I helped to conduct a Toys for Tots drive, a food drive, and a coat drive with donations going to Diakonia. Also, I was a part of Operation Stand Down, an organization getting help for homeless and at-risk veterans. I look forward to serving the people of OP and appreciate your support.
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

My top two priorities are to continue to work on the community's drainage issues and to support our police and fire departments. On drainage we should continue to look for grant money from the state and the county, just like what was done successfully for the Bainbridge pond project. This was a great start and an important step to improving the flooding issues facing of our community. My other priority is to focus on the supporting our police and fire departments. We have way too much turnover in the police department and we need to look at options that would be conducive for officers to stay. Our firehouse needs help. We cannot sacrifice safety in a town with an aging population. According to our fire chief, Steve Grunewald, we have a six minute response time anywhere in Ocean Pines. Anything that impacts that is unacceptable. Whatever we need to do in order to maintain the highest quality we already have, must be done.

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

We association members are shareholders in our company. I know that we are an HOA, not a stock company, but our investment makes us pseudo shareholders. We all bought in when we moved here. A couple years ago under our previous GM we utilized an assessment driven top down model for our budgeting needs. That approach got us in some financial difficulty. We did not do the due diligence with our building and infrastructure maintenance which resulted in us having to spend more on replacement. Our current GM uses a bottom up approach utilizing our department heads to come up with the budget. This makes them accountable for their individual budgets. This present model has been successful. The only way that I see that we can improve this is to maintain this approach. We need to rein in our spending on our legal advice. Last year, according to our board president, we spent in addition to our retainer close to $50,000 which included the failed law suit concerning last year’s election. We need to listen to what community members feel are their priorities.

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

Proven leadership, problem solving talent, and excellent management skills. I have been in practice and have successfully managed my business for over 30 years. I have the largest practice in my county in Pennsylvania. An entrepreneur stays in business this long by knowing what to do well, how to manage risks and by recruiting and investing in the best employees. I know how to deal with different personalities, be fiscally responsible, how to balance a budget, how to communicate well, and search for the right talent. One of my great strengths is the ability to see the gifts other people possess and put them to their best use. I am a natural leader. My leadership style revolves around giving people autonomy to make decisions and holding them accountable when necessary.

Monica Rakowski

Email: m.rak34@mediacombb.net
 

Introductory statement

My name is Monica Rakowski.

I began my professional career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Baltimore. More recently my background in consulting and project management of more than 18 years makes me an ideal candidate for a position on the Ocean Pines board of directors. I am enthusiastic and give my all to every job that I have taken or been given.

I have been volunteering and fund raising since I was a teenager. I have received recognition and awards including the local Optimist Girl of the Year award. I served as President of the Mother’s Club at my daughter’s school, sat on the parish counsel and as an elected Elder served as the coordinator of the communication and membership committees. While my daughter was not interested in sports I coached baseball, softball, and indoor soccer teams.

I am open and approachable. I will stand for all the members in Ocean Pines.

I am hoping for a chance to work harmoniously with other board members and volunteers as well as the management team.

If you like me and believe in my goals, please vote for me in the next Ocean Pines HOA Board of Directors election! Thank you!
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

If elected my top two priorities will be to protect the value of our properties and improve board transparency.

One of the largest and most important purchase one can make is that of a home. Our homes are investments that affect our future as well as the future of our families. Whether the housing market is up or down, a well-managed enforcement of the rules and standards regarding compliance are key to the objective. I would propose we educate new homeowners of our rules by hosting quarterly meetings specifically designed to educate new owners and communicate our governing rules.

Being on the board comes with a lot of responsibilities. Being responsible for transparency when communicating with the membership is my second priority. While it may be tempting to keep certain things under wraps, especially if there is dissention among the members or if an investment doesn’t go as planned hidings these types of issues only create more ruckus when the membership finally hears about them. All rules must be applied regardless of who breaks them. I will be accountable and tell the truth even if it doesn’t reflect well on myself or the board.

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

The preparation of the operating and capital budgets is the cornerstone of our membership. Responsible financial planning is an important fiduciary obligation of the board.

We have in place a committee enabling members to voice their opinions on how their money is spent. Having a committee in place spreads the workload and promotes greater understanding by members and acceptance of the fees and at times necessary increases.

Our recent results and performance compared to budget indicate our association in strong financial health. Is it time to say, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Our annual process currently includes a business plan, a review of past budgets, maintenance, and utility costs. As a result of an insurance review, this year the association saw a decrease of $40,000 in worker’s compensation insurance. All these things tell me the management team is doing all the right things.

While I am not new to building cash reserves, I must admit I am not up to date on our membership’s contingency plan. I will be prepared to educate myself and make sure our plan includes emergency management planning, extraordinary events management, fire risk assessments, workplace health and safety, and construction safety for capital projects.

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

I believe I have what it takes to be an OPA Director. My education and professional backgrounds are elements of what it takes. However, I believe there are more important qualities needed.

I want to better our community. I am passionate about protecting property values and making improvements that will benefit members. I can recognize problems and offer reasonable solutions.

I am driven by giving back to others. I want to be part of helping the association run as effectively as possible. I have a desire to serve.

I can take problems in stride. I understand for as many suggestions the association receives there are more than likely far more complaints. I can offer solutions to resolve issues while maintaining compliance. I am open to differing points of view. There is often more than one “right” way to accomplish something.

I do not need the recognition. My awareness of the thanklessness of the job is keen. Based on past volunteer projects I know how much work goes on behind the scenes that many may not realize. I want to put the effort in because it is the right thing to do, not because I am looking for praise from others.

Josette Wheatley

Email: Josette4OP@gmail.com
 

Introductory statement

I’m originally from New Brunswick, Canada. My husband, Bob and I raised four children in Howard County, Maryland before moving to Ocean Pines in 2014 to be closer to my in-laws, residents since 1996.

My professional background includes 25 years in civil and structural engineering design. I now am self-employed and own AES Drafting Services.

In October 2021, I continued my volunteerism with Ocean Pines when I was appointed to the Board of Directors. For eight years I have been active in Ocean Pines, active with the Chamber of Commerce, proudly serving on the 50th Anniversary Committee, and the Communications Advisory Committee, as the committee secretary.

I was president for my homeowner's association in Howard County. During those years, I worked on creating a financial reserve for our aging infrastructure. I also served as a liaison of CERN, a community emergency response network.

My focus for this year is to continue to listen to the community and get their voices heard. This includes drainage, infrastructure, and environmental issues.

Promoting our community is also a top priority, we live in an amazing part of the world, where the beauty is impeccable and so are the people who live here.
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

If elected my top two priorities would be to focus on infrastructure and quality of our water.

Infrastructure

Ocean Pines is now over 50 years old. We need to focus on planning for infrastructure needs. Projects should include replacing or relining pipes, upgrading our administration and fire department buildings, establishing standard operating procedures for maintaining existing structures, maintaining roadways and managing drainage. My extensive background in both structural and civil engineering design including storm water management will be helpful to the Board of Directors to better comprehend existing and new plans provided by Engineers. 

Water Quality

My understanding of storm water management leads me to my next focus…water quality.  Many of our neighbors experience flooding after storms; and we all are effected by Waste Water Plant overflow. My background in land development design makes me believe that we have over time gotten away from the original designers’ idea of storm water management within our community. We need to re-evaluate land usage and design going forward to ensure storm water management is properly addressed for generations to come. This could be as easy as utilizing pervious driveway & walkway applications.  

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

As we close out our 2021 year, our budget surplus is almost at 2 million dollars.

Per General Manager John Violas’ report, we have a POSITIVE YEAR-TO-DATE operating fund variance of $1,933,335. Revenues are OVER budget by $1,788,695 and total expenses are UNDER budget by $186,040. New capital is OVER by ($41,400).

Yacht Club $212,000 operating profit

Golf $288,000 operating profit

Beach Club $159,000 operating profit

Beach Parking $440,000 operating profit

Aquatics for first time in years turned a small operating profit

Of course I want to challenge all of our amenities to show operating profit. I want to continue with this positive trajectory. I am very proud to say I was on the Board of Directors that gave back $100 in fees to our homeowners of Ocean Pines. This was the first reduction in dues since 2015 when the fee was reduced by only $5.00.

And, I believe we should invest in our employees by providing additional training, benefits and income opportunities.

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

Because Ocean Pines is now over 50 years old, I believe my extensive background in Civil & Structural Engineering design, as well as my understanding of storm water management, will continue to be a great benefit to the Board. A well-rounded board should have experience in various disciplines. At the end of the day, we should work together to benefit all and to protect the legacy of Ocean Pines and those who were so passionate before us.

Our OPA committees are the pulse of our community, and the people who volunteer are passionate in the success of Ocean Pines. I intend to listen to the committees and get their voices heard. I have experience with Ocean Pines Communications, OPVFD & ARC Committees.

I have years of experience volunteering in both Ocean Pines Association and my previous community. If you have met me, you’ll know that I am friendly, a positive promoter of our community, all-inclusive, and will continue to share my ability to come together as one, whether elected or not. Respect and love towards all people should never be taken lightly. We live in an amazing community and that should never be forgotten.

Steve Jacobs

Email: sjacobs830@gmail.com
 

Introductory statement

My name is Steve Jacobs. I am asking for your support in this year’s Board election. I have lived in Maryland for over 50 years. In the few years my wife Nicki and I have lived in Ocean Pines we have enjoyed all its offerings.

Nicki and I have been married for over 30 years, we have two grown sons, Brian and Drew. I serve on the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee and the Golf Advisory Committee. At our prior home, I was President for three years of our HOA and served as Chair of a board of county citizens making recommendations to the county council. I am a member of Temple Bat Yam here in Berlin.

I am a retired lawyer working in private practice and later litigating child support cases for the Attorney General of Maryland. I also served on the staff of several Members of the U. S. House of Representatives from both political parties. I also worked as Vice President for Government Affairs for two trade associations. I have a proven ability to bring points of views together to reach consensus.

I would like your vote however, more important is to vote in this election.
 

If elected, what would be your top two priorities?

Currently, Ocean Pines has an budget surplus even with a pandemic and uncertain economic trends. If elected, my priority is to continue improving our stability for the present and into the future. I will endeavor to keep members’ assessments reasonable or lower if possible. My goal is to ensure that the services and amenities available in Ocean Pines are geared first and foremost to the residents of Ocean Pines.

The future promises us that new issues, questions and priorities will have to be addressed by all Ocean Pines residents. Our discussion and considerations of these matters need to be done in a thoughtful and civil manner. While we can disagree, we need to avoid being disagreeable. This is true of the Board’s deliberations as well as discussions throughout our community.

 

What do you think about Ocean Pines Association budgeting and finances? Do you have suggestions on improvements?

Our current fiscal well being is a testament to several years of hard work by the General Manager and his staff, the Board and the Budget and Finance Committee. It would appear that our current processes are working quite well.

There are some issues looming. Maryland is in the process of promulgating regulations regarding reserve studies and appropriate balances. It is unclear whether these regulations will impact Ocean Pines. Our current reserve accounts are in line with recommendations by a nationally recognized firm and met with the approval of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Another matter is the OP Fire Department. The OPVFD is seeking to replace the South Fire Station. Exactly what the OPVFD is seeking from Ocean Pines is unclear. Clearly some repairs need to be made to the station. This year’s budget included a $40 increase per assessment to maintain current response capabilities. Looking further down the road, Ocean Pines may also need to provide additional revenue as the OPVFD moves to a full-time fire/ems department due a decrease in the number of volunteers.

 

Describe what talents and skills you would bring as an OPA Director.

I love Ocean Pines and serving as a Board member would allow me to work on matters of importance to all of us and to use my talents as a person who listens to all sides and seeks consensus while reaching appropriate outcomes. My work experience includes working on major energy, communications, copyright and consumer protection legislation that took years to pass. I settled neighborhood disagreements by bringing neighbors together. I always prepared fully for trial while looking to find common ground to reach an agreement. I am volunteering to use these capabilities to continue and improve our community.

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