EagleVail Property Owners Association election leads to controversy after a winning candidate drops out following vote | VailDaily.com

EagleVail Property Owners Association election leads to controversy after a winning candidate drops out following vote

The EagleVail Property Owner's Association held an election in February 2023 to fill three open seats on its five-member board.
Mort Mullikan/Courtesy Photo, Vail Daily archive

The EagleVail Property Owners Association held its annual election for three board seats on Feb. 17, 2023. However, shortly after votes were tallied, a candidate withdrew, leaving one spot open, to which the board appointed a new director from the slate of candidates.

However, for two of the candidates who ran, the board’s action raised concerns, leading one candidate to reportedly file a protest to the election.

POA Election

Annually, the association seeks candidates to fill “at least two or three seats,” said the owner’s association in its statement. In 2023, seven candidates ran for three open board seats on a five-member board. These candidates were John Donovan, Michael Kieler, John Copeland, Cindy Gilbert, Doug Schofield, Kreston Rohrig, and incumbent Karl Krueger.

“Candidates with the highest votes are elected to the board for two-year terms. The EVPOA conducts an annual election by mail-in or hand-delivered ballot. Ballots are due before the day of the Annual Meeting,” said the owner’s association in its statement. “A CPA firm counts the votes cast and the election results are kept in a locked box until announced at the Annual Meeting. This procedure meets the EVPOA’s meeting policy and bylaws regarding meeting election and voting procedures.”

According to the election results, which are posted on the association’s website, the candidates that received the highest number of votes were Krueger, Kieler and Schofield, followed by Gilbert, Rohrig, Donovan and Copeland.

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However, following the election, even though he received the second-highest number of votes with 109 votes, “I immediately withdrew my candidacy,” Kieler said in an interview with the Vail Daily.

“I made a mistake. I made a calculation that I thought would work, and it didn’t. I thought I could gain control because there were three seats open,” he said, adding later that he realized he doesn’t “need this headache in my life.”

“I apologize for having run in the first place to whoever voted for me or whatever trouble I caused. But it is what it is,” he added.

According to Kieler, he previously spent eight years in two periods serving on the association’s board, and was seeking election this time around because he felt the board was “abdicating their basic responsibilities.”

Kieler said he believes POAs have three main responsibilities: community events, design review, and compliance.

And on the latter, he said the previous board “refused to focus in any way, shape or form, or do anything about having community events, bringing people together, giving them a chance to meet and greet and interact on a social basis. They don’t see that as their responsibility.”

Kieler sees three “major concerns” facing EagleVail right now: wildfire mitigation, getting a handle on short-term rentals, and whether the community should follow county leashing laws for dogs.

“The previous board never sought input from the community on issues that affect the community while spending literally tens of thousands of dollars rewriting our policies and procedures,” Kieler added.

While Kieler had hoped that the board would give his seat to the candidate that received the next highest number of votes, Gilbert, who received 105 votes, he was disappointed when the board appointed Donovan instead.

According to the association’s statement, an appointment was made because the withdrawal was not from the election itself, but from the seat he was elected to.

“A candidate ‘drops out’ only if they withdraw before the election process is complete,” the statement said.

“Once the election process is finished a candidate elected to the board cannot withdraw. Withdrawal at that point is a resignation from the board,” the statement said. “EVPOA bylaws provide that a vacancy on the board for any reason is filled by board appointment. Appointed board members serve an abbreviated term until the next election.”

The association added that the “same procedure applies for filling a vacancy regardless of when a resignation occurs.”

However, Gilbert does not see it the same way. Following the appointment, which took place in a special board meeting on March 3, Gilbert said she filed a “Protest to the Board.”

Gilbert, in an interview with the Vail Daily, said she filed her protest for two reasons. First, was “on behalf of the 105 people that voted for me,” and second, because “Darlynne’s (Cassaday, the current POA board president) letter to me quoted what the attorneys had said.”

“They said the board will still want to consider — this is a quote from the legal — ‘the Board will still want to consider the optics of choosing to fill the position with an appointed director, as opposed to an elected director or the candidate with the next highest votes,’ Gilbert said. “Now, that’s a quote from their lawyers, and that next highest vote was me.”

According to the association’s statement, it does not currently have a procedure for a candidate protest and would not confirm whether it had received Gilbert’s.

“The board may acknowledge receipt of a candidate protest and take it under advisement,” the association said.

Gilbert believes that this decision to not appoint her was made because “they wanted somebody that would let them keep a majority and do what they wanted.”

“The bottom line here is that if anyone, anybody but me, was the next highest vote-getter, the board wouldn’t be spending these legal fees,” Gilbert said. “But I have a big voice in EagleVail. I’ve been on both boards, Metro and POA, for 14 years total, and I know what’s going on.”

Overall, Gilbert said that what the board members “are doing is not for the betterment of the community,” later adding that her main concern is that “the residents have no say.”

“There’s a whole lot of things they’re doing wrong, and I think the main thing is, how do we get our voice?” Gilbert said. “I attend the Zoom (board) meetings most of the time, and in the last two years, I’ve seen residents show up, and the board gives you two minutes as a resident to speak, and then the board ignores what you’ve said, and we have no power to get the board to do something that we’re speaking to … our hands are tied, we can’t do anything.”

Additionally, both Kieler and Gilbert expressed concerns over the association board spending money on attorney fees, which was something Gilbert called out in her protest.

“In several places, it said in the protest that they’re spending our dues money on legal that has no bearing on their primary duty,” Gilbert said, adding that this primary duty is to “protect our property values.”

“How is spending all this money on legal so that they can get their way, protecting our property values?” Gilbert added

Two boards, one community

The EagleVail community has two separate boards that govern different aspects of the area: the Property Owners Association and the EagleVail Metro District Board of Directors.

According to Steve Barber, the EagleVail District Manager, the two boards worked together from 2010 to 2017 via “joint governance” until the Property Owners Association “decided to move in a different direction and hire BOLD Solutions to manage code enforcement and design review for the community.”

As such, today, while the boards work together occasionally on communication in the community — sharing information about things like wildlife interactions, water use, wildfire mitigation and more — the two organizations have been “separated since January 2018 focusing on their own individual issues and challenges,” Barber said.

The Metro District board is governed by state statutes and owns and manages “all of the assets in the community,” Barber said.

On the flip side, the Property Owners Association is a Homeowners Association “responsible for covenant enforcement and design review related to member properties within the subdivisions of EagleVail,” according to a statement from the owner’s association. The association has 1,447 member properties.

The Metro District is currently preparing for its own election on May 2, 2023, when it will elect two directors to serve four-year terms on the board.

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