Let’s avoid personal attacks and stick to the issues

In a recent letter to the Islander News, Frances Reaves, president of Oceansound, stated that when I was president of Key Colony HOA I wouldn’t allow her to put up campaign signs when she was running for Village Council “because of its [HOA’s] desire to stay out of the fray.” Not at all; it was because it is against our bylaws to do so. She apparently never forgave me for that, and the Condo Presidents Council (KBCPC), which I head, for not endorsing her candidacy.

KBCPC, as an organization, does not endorse candidates. It is an organized group of condominium neighbors who collectively advance the unique issues facing all condo owners in the public domain.

Then, after telling us that an HOA should not take a stand on “political” issues such as the GO Bond, she proceeded to use her own board to attack me and village candidate Louisa Conway in what is an obvious political jab.

Condo boards absolutely have the right to express an opinion on issues that affect their financial well-being and property values.

The Key Colony HOA Board decided not to take a public policy stand, but rather to encourage further discussion with speakers on both sides. That was a reasonable outcome and passed unanimously. Some associations, like Casa del Mar, have voted to oppose the GO Bond. The important thing is to educate all owners on what is at stake.

In the end, each condo dweller will vote their conscience.

But Ms. Reaves wasn’t satisfied with giving her opinion that we should have no opinion. She included an innuendo about a lawsuit HOA is litigating with a management company hired by the board under former HOA President Matt Bramson. A few years later, the engagement was terminated under my presidency by a 7 to 1 vote in favor, which included support from her husband, Tom Koch, who was the VP.

Ms. Reave’s disingenuous attack was aimed at impugning Ms. Conway’s and my reputation, insinuating that being named in a lawsuit by a disgruntled former contractor somehow makes us “suspect.”

No politics in Key Colony? Please.

In addition to her personal attacks, I am particularly concerned about her disparaging remarks about the KBCPC. The Presidents Council has served the owners and residents of all condominiums well.

It successfully got the village to lower building permit fees from 7% to under 3%. It promoted smart lights for Crandon and the village was able to secure close to $300,000 from the state and county to purchase and install them. The KBCPC held certification courses for board members, organized forums on beach and water related topics, and fought successfully to improve beach cleaning. After Hurricane IRMA, the KBCPC sought and secured approval from the village for a ground-breaking agreement with FEMA so that condo properties could benefit from storm debris removal at no cost.

All these successes have led to cost savings for every condo owner. I do not believe Frances Reaves ever helped in any of these efforts. It is indeed unfortunate that she has decided to put her personal animosity towards me above the interests of her own building owners.

The KBCPC has focused on working with the village to develop a unified resilient storm water system. We believe it should cover the entire village, including condos and commercial properties. It will also create equity in infrastructure investments and services. This was one of the founding concerns of the KBCPC six years ago. If we are successful, the entire village will benefit, bringing us all closer together. We need to be one village in deeds, not just words.

While there are differences of opinion about how we approach important village projects, in a democracy we celebrate those differences. It is what separates us from other countries. What is crucial is that we stick to the issues, not engage in personal vendettas or character assassination. We all need to work together, respectful of each other’s views, and not contribute to the dangerous polarization we are witnessing in other parts of the country.

Tony Camejo

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