Meet the RSF Association candidates

Candidates David Gamboa, Jeff Simmons, Sahar Rutledge and Steve Dunn.
Candidates David Gamboa, Jeff Simmons, Sahar Rutledge and Steve Dunn.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe Association had a packed house for its Annual Meeting on May 11, a chance to meet the four candidates looking to fill two seats on the board of directors.

Below is a look at the candidates Jeff Simmons, Sahar Rutledge, David Gamboa and Steve Dunn, and in the Association’s randomly selected order:

Jeff Simmons
Jeff Simmons grew up in Rancho Santa Fe, walking and riding the trails, and he still does with his dog Sam. As a 10-year member of the Trails Committee, he sees the trails as one of the Covenant’s greatest assets and what helps make the community so unique.

In addition to the Trails Committee, Simmons has served on the Art Jury and currently serves on the Forest Health and Preservation Committee, working to replace trees lost around the golf club during the renovation. He now seeks a spot on the board to continue to protect the Ranch’s rustic and rural character.

“Enhancing our amenities is my highest priority,” Simmons said. He supports updating the golf club restaurant and lounge as he feels it is the social hub of the community—he said he is not as sure about the multi-million dollar snack bar as best use of money.

“There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the renovation of the golf course. While I believe some mistakes have been made what we need to do moving forward is look for solutions, not litigate the past. I believe that problems can be overcome …I propose unity over division for the good of our community.”

Simmons is a strong proponent of volunteering, “it’s an area where community shines.” He said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of all those who give their time for the betterment of the community that he loves so much.

Sahar Rutledge
Born and raised in Iran, Rutledge moved to Rancho Santa Fe two and a half years ago with her husband.

An equestrian for many years, she worked in the horse industry as a self-employed horse trainer, rider, breeder and eventually as an exclusive seller for the Westphalian Breeding Association in Münster, Germany. For the last seven years she has been working as a legal assistant for a law office in Rancho Santa Fe.

In her candidate mailer, Rutledge said she is running for the board as she feels responsible to devote part of her time to support her community.

“As an athlete who frequently hikes and bikes in our community more than 20 miles a week, I spend considerable time outdoors in the Covenant,” Rutledge said. “By doing so, I can see problems the Association needs to address. As a board member, I will help maintain the peaceful tranquility of our environment, keep it safe, clean and committed to making our environment better.”

Her priorities as a board member would include gathering community input on big decisions, addressing road and traffic concerns, and communication: “I believe communication is very important, the first step in everything.”

David Gamboa
David Gamboa moved to the Covenant on Sept. 13, 2001. Two days after 9/11, during a sad and scary time, he and his wife Julie decided there was no place they would rather be than Rancho Santa Fe: “I love this place.”

Gamboa and Julie have raised their three children here—the family spent three years living abroad in Switzerland from 2010-13. His volunteer experience includes serving as a board member and chair on the Rancho Santa Fe School Education Fund, Horizon Prep School campus redevelopment committee, and on the board of trustees at Francis Parker School and Aiglon College, an international boarding school in Switzerland.

Professionally, he co-founded Petrolsoft Corporation, a supply chain management software system for the petroleum industry, which he sold to Aspen Technology in 2000. Partial to wine, he is now the founding member of the Rancho Santa Fe Vintners and Growers Association, leading the effort to make Rancho Santa Fe an American Viticultural Area.

If elected Gamboa promises to follow every rule of governance, which he said is important for managing a nonprofit corporation as important as the Association.

“We steward 7,000 acres worth $6 billion with 181 beautiful and professional staff and a $28 million budget,” Gamboa said. “I don’t think a lot of our neighbors understand how big this Association is, how important it is and how unique it is in the United States.”

His priorities on the board would be addressing the loss of homeowners’ fire insurance, increasing water rates and density—as the state looks to solve the housing crisis, he said “Our density could be challenged in the future.”

As the meeting endured some struggles with microphone and sound issues, Gamboa also jokingly promised his first act as a board member would be a better PA system.

Steve Dunn
A Rancho Santa Fe resident for 27 years, Steve Dunn has been active in the community since he moved here with his wife Jennifer and two daughters.

He has served as a member of the RSF Golf Club Board of Governors three times, most recently in 2020-23. He has also served on the Association board before, from 2017-2020. While on the board he was the liaison to the Trails Committee, Tennis Committee and Golf Club board of Governors; chaired the Compensation Committee; and represented the board on the 3 by 3 Committee for two years.

This time around, he would like to see the Association focus its efforts on the renovation of the golf club restaurant, a community asset.

“I think it’s really important for our community to complete out and finish up a project that’s so vital to all of us,” Dunn said. “There’s no place in this community where a family can go out and enjoy dinner with their children and have it be reasonable for both parties…the replacement of snack bar and redevelopment of this senior center that we call our restaurant is going to be an incredible enhancement for our community.”

Dunn said he learned a lot from his last time on the board—most importantly how the board relates to the staff. He said in the past some boards have over-reached: “It’s time to do a better job of training board members what it means to be on the board so staff can do their job and the board can get out of the way.”

Ballots have been mailed and are due back by June 13.