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Meet the Rancho Santa Fe Association board candidates

Four candidates are running for three Rancho Santa Fe Association board seats: Skip Atkins, Laurel Lemarie, Bill Strong and Bill Weber. They are seeking to fill the seats of RSF Association President Ken Markstein, Vice President Allen Finkelson and Treasurer Janet Danola, whose three-year terms are expiring.

Ballots will be mailed to members following the Thursday, May 9, RSF Association Annual Meeting at the RSF Golf Club, which will feature a candidate forum at 6 p.m. In alphabetical order below is biographical information about the candidates and their answers to three questions.

Skip Atkins
Skip Atkins Courtesy

Name: Skip Atkins

Occupation:

Fleet Management (Auto Repair): 51 years

Underground and Ariel Construction: 12 years

Years living in the RSF Covenant:

Purchased first property in 2013, moved full-time in 2015.

Community activities:

 President of the San Fernando Valley Auto Body Association: 5 years.

 President Horizon Heights Homeowners Association: 25 years.

 RSF Finance Committee

 RSF Fiber optic Committee

 RSF Garden Club Board

 RSF Golf Club Activities Committee

Education: High School

1.) Why are you running for a seat on the RSF Association board?

Margo and I have owned property in the Covenant since 2013. I am on the Association Finance Committee, the Fiber Optic Committee, the Golf Activities Committee, and the Garden Club Board. I enjoy giving back to my community and believe that my particular business experience could be an asset to the board — particularly when it comes to improving our infrastructure. We have a very capable Association staff and I believe my skill sets would be additive in getting things accomplished.

2.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing the RSF Association/Covenant?

One of the most important issues in our community today is our infrastructure. We must provide the community with excellent high-speed internet and ongoing service. We need to work with SDGE to get our utilities underground instead of on large steel poles.

We need to work with the County to get our roads repaired, our speed limits down, and our horse and golf crossings safer. Our forestry is also a big issue. We need to work with residents and the Fire Department to clear dead trees and do a comprehensive program for reforesting. I strongly support the efforts of our Water Committee to get fair water rates from SFID. I support the Association Board’s work with the Golf Club to improve the dining experience. Last, but not least, we need to do what we can to revitalize our downtown.

3.) How do you think your experience can help address some of these issues and others that come before the RSF Association board?

I have had four decades of experience providing services to companies such as ATT, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Verizon, and Sparkletts Water. We maintained over 30,000 vehicles in seven states and employed an average of 450 employees. I also was a partner in an aerial and underground construction company and currently hold a California Contractor’s License. I know how to work with the service providers and public utilities to get things done in a timely manner. Once committed to a goal I will work tirelessly to see that it is accomplished.

Laurel Lemarié
Laurel Lemarié Courtesy

Name: Laurel Lemarié

Occupation:

I worked for the Naval Electronics Laboratory as a business applications computer programmer; I maintained the division budget. I was promoted to the systems division where I did systems programming and designed and maintained a shipboard computer system.

Years living in the RSF Covenant:

My husband Kent and I moved to the Covenant in 1976, when we purchased our first and only home.

Community activities:

Publicly elected to:

 San Dieguito Planning Group, 2003 to present and

 RSF Community Services District 2014 to present.

Other community activities:

 RSF Trail Committee, 7 years

 RSF Garden Club, Rummage Sale Head Cashier, 10 years

 RSF Garden Club, taught Mahjongg, 2008 - 2014

 RSF Senior Center, taught Mahjongg, 2014 - 2018

 RSF Community Concerts, Treasurer, 2015 - 2018

 Beach & Country Guild, Treasurer, 5 yrs; Co-Chair, Dia del Sol

 De Anza DAR, Regent, Treasurer, other offices, 2004 - 2014

 De Anza DAR, Parliamentarian, 2018 - present

 District XIV CA DAR, Parliamentarian, 2018 - present

Education:

BS Mathematics, Tulane University; Masters in Computer Science, UCSD.

1.) Why are you running for a seat on the RSF Association board?

I am running to protect RSF’s community character, rural atmosphere, dark skies policy and property values - now and for future generations. I am running to represent everyone - carpooling moms and dads; horseback riders and walkers; the retired and those busy with careers; golfers and tennis players.

We moved here because of the rural atmosphere, school and horseback riding and hiking on dedicated, maintained trails. We knew that the Protective Covenant held everyone to high standards, providing guidelines that would ensure a beautiful place to live and raise our family. I am running to protect our governing documents.

Many members encouraged me to run. They are familiar with the projects I have worked on and the logical way I approach issues. As a director, I will continue to advocate for RSF at County and State levels.

2.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing the RSF Association/Covenant?

Improving road safety is essential for motorists, horseback riders and walkers. Speeding commuter traffic makes exiting driveways dangerous. Potholes need to be repaired and roads resurfaced.

It isn’t “if” RSF has a wildfire, but “when.” To prevent wildfire and to increase power, SDGE is installing metal poles, but still plans to cut power during high winds. If we underground, remove dead/dying trees, follow fire department guidelines more closely, we could reduce wildfire risk.

Skyrocketing water rates have changed RSF. Members have let their groves die; many skyline trees are gone. I spoke against the proposed SFID rate hike. RSF has higher rates than Solana Beach, yet coastal cities get to buy cheaper reclaimed water. We need to bring reclaimed water to our golf course to keep costs down.

The Covenant has provided 90 years of beauty for us. I will continue to protect it.

3.) How do you think your experience can help address some of these issues and others that come before the RSF Association board?

Serving on San Dieguito Planning Group, I developed County contacts to call for information and assistance. We need a new committee to address road repairs and commuter traffic. I will advocate for our roads at the County level.

My Community Services District experience taught me that long-term funding is available to bury power and communication lines. I am willing to assist neighborhood groups that want to underground. I’m also familiar with studies to bring reclaimed water to RSF. If we can clear the project hurdles, we could realize longterm savings.

Having created and maintained websites, I think we could increase efficiency by upgrading our website. For example, if applicants could download forms for projects that use approved materials, the CDRC could be streamlined.

My historical knowledge of the Ranch will help us avoid the pitfalls of the past. My logical and analytical skills will help with upcoming issues.

Bill Strong
Bill Strong Courtesy

Name: Bill Strong

Occupation: Retired, about 20 years ago, after work experience in consulting, US Navy Pilot, Chase Bank, American Airlines, AM International, and founding a number of start-ups in early PC software, mailing industry, internet software, and real estate development.

Years living in the RSF Covenant: 32 years (Member/Owner 34 years)

Community activities: Currently on Finance Committee. RSFA Director 2001-04 (2 years as VP), RSF Community Center Board 1989-92 (2 years as Treasurer; Silver Level Donor). 2002-04: Located five possible school properties, including delivering purchase options for three. 2002: Proposed RSFA owned Casitas as a step-down option rented to Covenant members. 2002: School Bond Committee and co-author SD County Voter Pamphlet Pro Arguments. 2000: Early studies of pro/cons of incorporation; requested joint study with RSFA. 1998-2002: Proposed Art Jury Guidelines re House Size by using the parcel’s acreage and slopes. Member RSF Golf Club since 1999 (I don’t keep score). Member of RSF Historical Society and RSF Village Church. Former member RSF Tennis Club and Riding Club. Developed 250 acres in northern RSF (40 Covenant acres) in 1987 & 1997, including being the “art jury” for 35 new homes. Author of about 45 RSF Review OpEds 1998-2015. Fast walk 20 miles weekly on Covenant trails.

Education: Occidental College BA (Business and Pre-Dental), a Harvard University MBA, and a struggling start-up that became an industry.

1.) Why are you running for a seat on the RSF Association board?

I love RSF and care deeply about all aspects of our life together here in this historic and special community. We have 90 years and over $6 billion invested in this unique place that is irreplaceable, can never be duplicated, and is managed by seven Directors. As a longtime resident with a fresh perspective, I want to continue the progress of the past few years, focus on our future, and make our community even more attractive, enjoyable, and valuable. Our busy younger members need Board representation, which I will provide as I encourage their increased involvement. The Covenant runs on volunteers, and I want to focus on the future. I know and respect the four continuing Board members, and know we would work well together. I know the job and its burdens, and feel I am worthy of trust required.

2.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing the RSF Association/Covenant?

We are all fortunate to live here, so to me, the question is how much better can we make it. The #1 issue is our future, restoring the luster of the RSF “brand”, increasing our attractiveness/enjoyment, and boosting our lagging real estate values. Internal issues include the profitable operation of our fiber system, hopefully forming a Rancho 2020 Committee to focus on our future, fiscal responsibility, increasing participation at all levels, Golf Club remodel/cost sharing, and possibly evaluating utility undergrounding where feasible. External issues include traffic, water rates, fire danger, and getting the County to maintain our roads in better condition.

3.) How do you think your experience can help address some of these issues and others that come before the RSF Association board?

My experience is relevant in several ways. 1) I fully understand what a Director’s responsibilities are in order to properly serve all members, and my 14 RSFA principles are listed on my campaign “flyer” and on my website (www.StrongRSF.com). This knowledge is not found in the Bylaws; it must be found within the person. 2) I also understand the strengths and limitations of the Board and the RSFA, having served on the Board before. 3) I know the complex personality of “the covenant” and the diverse objectives that must be respected. 4) I believe in cordial factual dialog as the only way to address issues. 5) My broad range of experiences, including work in very diverse industries and start-ups, my problem-solving skills, and a respect for all points of view, will allow me to represent all members fairly and honestly.

Bill Weber
Bill Weber Courtesy

Name: Bill Weber

Occupation: Retired as Program Manager after 30 years at Hughes Aircraft Company and General Motors. Responsible for Airborne Displays product line, Collision Avoidance programs, and Strategic Planning for the $1 billion Radar Systems Group.

Years living in the RSF Covenant: My wife, Sue, and I moved to the Covenant from Los Angeles in 1998, attracted by its sense of community, the beautiful surrounds, and the golf course. We have not been disappointed. During those 21 years, I’ve enjoyed working with others in various local non-profit organizations.

Community activities:

 San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Board of Directors: 6 years, 2 years as President

 San Diego YMCA, Corporate Board: 6 years, 3 as Chair of the Communications/Marketing Committee

 The Cambridge School, Board of Trustees: 4 years, 2 as President

 Rancho Santa Fe Association Audit and Finance Committee: 2 years

 San Diego Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors: 4 years, currently serving as Secretary.

Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club:

 Renovation Committee, 6 years as Chair

 Long-Range Planning Committee, 8 years as Chair

 Board of Governors, 2 years as Treasurer, 1 year as President

Education:

 1964, B.S., Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 1966, M.S., Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 1986, Managerial Policy Institute, University of Southern California

 1996, Executive Marketing Program, University of California at Los Angeles

1.) Why are you running for a seat on the RSF Association board?

I would like to serve on the Board of Directors because:

 I am a listener and a problem-solver. Because of the diversity in our community, it is important to listen to — and hear — all sides of an issue before proposing solutions.

 I am a strategic thinker. Beyond resolving current issues, one of the most important responsibilities of our Board of Directors is to articulate our vision for the community. And then to support our capable staff in achieving those strategic goals.

 I like to work with people. Throughout my career, I have gained as much satisfaction from who I have worked with as I have from what we accomplished together.

 I love this community. I want it to be the best it can be. Period.

2.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing the RSF Association/Covenant?

In my opinion, the five most important issues facing the Covenant today are:

1. Providing members with state-of-the-art services, including completing RSF Connect. This project represents a tremendous investment in our future. Not only must we complete the project, but we need to fully develop it as a community resource.

2. Recognizing and celebrating the age diversity in our community by more fully engaging the full spectrum of age groups in Covenant life and governance.

3. Continuing to strengthen the cooperative relationship between the Association and the Golf and Tennis Clubs and Osuna Ranch in recognition of their value as community assets/amenities.

4. Protecting the pastoral quality of our beautiful community. Protecting water rates, developing alternate water sources, and protecting our forests are all key to preserving that beauty.

5. Developing — and marketing - our community’s unique brand identity.

3.) How do you think your experience can help address some of these issues and others that come before the RSF Association board?

Throughout my professional career — and since retirement — I have recognized the value of effectively working with others as both team member and leader. Today, I benefit from more than 50 years of leadership experience, beginning with my college career as a successful oarsman and coach, extending through my professional career as lead engineer and product line/program manager in the aerospace and automotive industries, and including my post-retirement experience with community and non-profit organizations.

As an engineer, I have learned how to solve problems. As a leader — in various roles — I have learned how to motivate and work with others. In considering any issue facing our community, the best solution will result from listening to all sides to thoroughly understand the issue, and effectively and transparently communicating any conclusions and the rationale. I recognize that we may not always please everyone, but I am a consensus-builder who is not afraid to make decisions. And, I am strongly committed to refining the vision for our community and working with our staff to achieve our strategic goals.


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