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A handful of POA members attended a Zoom meeting about becoming a candidate for the board of directors on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The annual board election starts when ballots go out in April, but Jan. 13 is the deadline for candidates to submit their nomination packets.

To be a candidate for the board of directors, a member must be in good standing -- their assessment fees must be up to date -- he or she must turn in a clean background check and must turn in 50 signatures from other members in good standing. Because of the pandemic, this year candidates can have members sign electronically by sending each one a link that leads to an online form.

A relatively new policy says that former board members who were removed cannot run again for three years. Two board members have been removed in the last few years: John Nuttall in May 2018 and Steve McKee in May 2020.

Owners of unimproved lots are eligible to serve on the board even if they don't live in Bella Vista, Judson said. The POA includes thousands of members who own only unimproved lots.

One of the candidates attending the Zoom meeting, Dan Berghammer, had already submitted his signatures, corporate secretary Tammie Loyd confirmed.

General manager Tom Judson advised candidates to try and collect more than 50 signatures in case some were judged to be invalid. Members can only sign once for each lot owned, he said, so a married couple who own a lot jointly cannot both sign. But a member who owns more than one lot can sign once for each lot he or she owns.

At the board meeting on Jan. 28, the names of candidates will be announced and a lottery will be held to determine each candidate's position on the ballot. To help members decide who they will support, the POA collects profile information from each candidate and also posts a photo and a short video, Judson said. That information is due on Feb. 22.

On March 16, the POA will host a candidate forum, although, because of the pandemic, details on the forum cannot yet be confirmed, he said.

Members will vote to fill four positions. Three-year board terms are staggered, according to the governing documents. The terms of Mary Sinkus, Jerry Hover and David Whelchel are ending this year. Also, Mike Abb was appointed to fill an unexpired term until the 2021 election. The fourth-place candidate will serve the last year of that term.

Judson reminded the candidates that board members are volunteers and are expected to attend four or five meetings a month, including joint advisory committees like Golf, Recreation and Lakes, as well as board committees like Rules and Regulations. The board chairperson assigns liaisons to the Joint Advisory Committees.

There are also three board meetings each month, including one closed meeting, one work session, and the monthly meeting. Attending via Zoom or conference call is permissible, Judson said. Also, board members are expected to check email often and keep it up to date.

The board, he said, has only one employee -- the chief operating officer/general manager who supervises all the other employees. The board's authority is held by the entire board, not any single member, he said.

"The board speaks with one voice," he said.

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