Candidates have final word before election


The five-member Canyon Lake POA Board of Directors are collectively responsible for the management and operation of the POA’s business affairs. The board members are elected for staggered two-year terms.

Three of the five seats are up for election in May when the terms of Mike Harris, Phil Hawgood and Tom Nathan end. The three directors are eligible to run for another term.

The five candidates vying for a seat on the board are Jeanne O’Dell, Tom Nathan, Chris Poland, Phil Hawgood and Mike Harris.

In the weeks leading up to the election, The Friday Flyer is featuring a series of questions to the candidates. During this period, residents will have a chance to hear directly from the candidates and learn what they hope to accomplish if elected to serve on the board.

Last week, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates if they thought Community Patrol is providing adequate services and what they think can be done to improve services.

In this seventh and final installment of questions, The Friday Flyer invited the candidates to answer the following question in 500 or fewer words. The candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.


This week, the candidates have the final word. What would you like to say to the voters before they cast their votes? Is there an answer you gave to The Friday Flyer or at one of the two candidate forums that you’d like to further clarify?

Jeanne O’Dell

Jeanne O’Dell. Photo by Donna Ritchie

My entire professional life has been dedicated to serving people, in both the public and private sector. We know as parents and grandparents that we are responsible for leading by example. I told my son several months ago that I cannot voice concerns about anything anymore if I don’t try to fix it. I believe that serving on the board of directors is the opportunity I have been waiting for to step up and serve the public once again and take care of some of those concerns. This community has given me so much, a great place to live, new friends and friends that have become like family. This is my chance to return the favor.

Canyon Lake is a vibrant community and we must make sure our business practices continue to evolve to match the community’s needs. I believe that we need to make sure we are taking care of the priorities established by the majority of our community. What services are we providing that are no longer needed or wanted? What services should we be providing that we aren’t currently furnishing and how should we deliver them?

I believe in trying new things in order to continuously improve on the services that are provided. If a new idea doesn’t work, we can change it until it does, that is what continuous improvement is all about.

The current board is doing a good job of taking care of the here and now but we must start planning again for the future. I understand that some members of the community are currently happy with the status quo but as with anything in life, there is always room for improvement.

My professional experience will help us to continue moving in a forward direction. I have 30 plus years in corporate governance and approximately 10 years in private business. Most importantly, I have many years of experience in shared governance. We need to return to a shared governance community so that planning for the future includes all of our shareholders.

I believe that I can bring a fresh perspective to the community. I have no personal agenda other than to make sure that the staff, from the corporate level to the operations crew, have the tools they need to be successful. Their success is our success. I don’t believe in answering no to anyone unless I have an alternative to offer them. I know that the staff believes this too.

I strongly believe that communication is the key to organizational success. I believe that there are ways we can continue to improve our methods for providing information to our shareholders, including having committee reports at board meetings, continuing to improve the website and by finding out what the majority of our members want to know about.

The outpouring of support that I’ve received has been incredible. I know that with the assistance of the other board members and our incredible staff, and that by working together, we will be successful. Thank you!

Tom Nathan

Tom Nathan. Photo by Donna Ritchie

The Canyon Lake POA has a five-member board of directors who are collectively responsible for the management and operation of the Canyon Lake POA’s business affairs. Those who are elected should make each of their decisions with the interest of the entire community at heart. The greatest reward of being a director will be the satisfaction of a job well done when the community prospers. Without a capable board, a community’s quality can quickly decline.

Community is defined as “people with common interests.” There are many reasons why people choose to purchase property here, but the ideal in common is people are attracted to what Canyon Lake has to offer its residents. The common interest of maintaining and improving that image of Canyon Lake is vital to the success of our community. Electing board members who share this vision is key to attaining that goal.

It recently came to my attention that two current board members seeking re-election are distributing a two-page flyer. Page one states, “Is This Your Priority” and displays some of the items on the current and planned project list from the POA’s website. The second page states, “Or Do You Want This?” and presents targeted estimates from the POA’s 2018 Reserve Analysis Study and further misleads and makes false statements about future annual dues increases. This is best described as “fearmongering” – the action of deliberately arousing public fear.

The candidates’ flyer portrays $4.7 million of upcoming repair expenses, as well as $3 million of dredging cost. It refers to “Their Slush Fund” (not sure who “Their” is and I don’t believe a fantasy “Slush Fund” exists) and portrays increases to yearly assessments at 20 percent per year for the next two years. It’s most concerning to me that current board members are disseminating this false information.

As current directors, we already know that most of the $4.7 million presented on the flyer is not necessary and $2.5 million for refurbishing golf course greens and fairways won’t be needed thanks to the excellent maintenance programs of past years. Based on an irrigation system analysis performed by Brent Harvey Consulting last year, $1.9 million won’t be needed for golf course irrigation replacement. So why would those who know (or should know) this be spreading this information to the members? Fearmongering.

Dredging the lake is currently in a discussion phase. Who will dredge, what will be required before such a project can start, where will the silt be relocated to and when will this process begin are all unknown factors at this time. Lake health is important for the lake as well as the property values for all Canyon Lake owners. To portray today that $3 million will be assessed to Canyon Lake homeowners is premature.

An unfortunate impression I get from this flyer distribution is the choosing of sides. For me, that’s what occurs when a community is no longer “people with common interests.” I believe in the idea of “community spirit” and look forward to continuing on the board supporting all POA community members.

Chris Poland

Chris Poland. Photo by Donna Ritchie

If you have voted, thank you for helping us make quorum. If you have not, please vote for me.

How can the current leadership claim to be listening to the people when they have blocked key communication channels? They do not hold monthly working sessions, have given some committees ad-hoc status, told others to “go dark” during designated times and they conduct much of their monthly business by consent agenda where public discussion is not permitted. They ask for the opportunity to finish their list of projects, but where is our chance to comment on the plans before the projects start construction?

Canyon Lake is the gem of our region with spectacular views, a private lake and golf course, families of all ages and a delightfully unique ambiance. This is a place where people live and work together to maintain and enhance a community that all can enjoy – each with their own favorite part.

All the talk about not dredging the lake, further restricting access to the amenities, closing or reducing the golf course to nine holes, or worse yet, opening it to the public and breaching our privacy is counter to why we are all here. Our articles of incorporation clearly state that the POA is organized to “promote the creation and preservation of a peaceful enjoyment of the property and the protection of property values.” What right does the current leadership have to even suggest restrictions that will disturb our peaceful enjoyment of the property or put our property values at risk?

Our security is rooted in our closed community status and willingness to pay for our own security force. The consensus is that they are not doing enough and many, including the current leadership, say we need to pay more. But when they control how much we pay members of the Community Patrol, how can they complain about the workforce. We need to better understand the problem, inject new thinking that will yield new solutions, make better use of technology and develop a productive partnership with the city.

The recently completed Reserve Study states that we, as a POA, own assets worth about 30 million dollars and estimates that about 18 million dollars will be needed over the next 35 years to maintain them. Our Reserve Funds provide the money when it is needed. Those funds need to be replenished and fortified every year if we are to maintain our “gem” status. Any suggestion that the Reserve Funds are just “slush funds” is not based in a clear understanding of what we own and what it takes to keep it fresh.

Frankly, I’m disappointed that the current leadership only wants to talk about who they are, what they have done, what projects they want to finish and why we need to cut back on our spending. We have a talented general manager and energetic staff that can get things done, we need new and energetic leadership on the board to make the best use of their talents.

Phil Hawgood

Phil Hawgood. Photo by Donna Ritchie

To the people of Canyon Lake, I would like to ask you for your vote for both myself, Phil Hawgood, and for Mike Harris. We are two of the only three candidates that have actual experience in being a board director. We, as a board, have made good decisions and have been careful to take our entire community into consideration when voting, including those younger families that live here.

This matters because the current Canyon Lake population is about 12,400 people of which 51 percent are families with parents at 50 years of age or younger with children! However, as of today, the board has not taken enough effort to support this group in the same way that it has for those over the age of 50, who have everything that they need!

A current project approved by this board is known as the pump track. It is out of planning and will be starting soon in Sierra Park North. If you have never visited that park, it’s just five or so acres that have never received approval for anything until now. We will create one-third of the construction in the very near future, including the pump track.

A new board of directors which would not include Mike Harris and I could reverse or underfund this great project. Please, for the sake of all the young families, don’t let this happen. Vote to re-elect Phil Hawgood and Mike Harris!

Mike Harris

I wish to add to the security issues we are faced with. Each summer, especially holidays, we are inundated with weekend rentals that allow people to overrun our amenities. Exploring a Joint Powers Agreement will allow us to utilize the City’s Code Enforcement. Short term rentals not only violate our CC&Rs but also violate the City of Canyon Lake and Riverside County Ordinances. Code Enforcement would also be able to assist Marine Patrol on the lake during holidays.

I have asked if a member/resident would be allowed to apply with Allied Universal to work here. The answer was yes. A homeowner has more interest in adding protection to their community. Also being discussed is a volunteer program where a member would be able to work alongside a gate attendant for a day. First and foremost, we must validate the legal and liability issue involved with this proposal. Our security staff has developed a 48-page training manual that all Allied personnel is taught, we would require a volunteer to follow this also.

We recently added CivicMobile for residents. This will allow residents to be notified. You can opt-in at

At the Meet the Candidates hosted by the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce, the question was asked about the accountability regarding the amphitheater.

When this project was under construction, the POA was also renovating Happy Camp and constructing a new Marine Patrol building. The general manager was asked to start the amphitheater to accommodate a planned club event. The POA had previously received a design and construction estimate for this
project of $350,000. It was decided that this project would instead be an in-house design/build project. In hindsight, the request should have been declined and the project constructed at a later date.

The retaining walls are under 30 inches high and do not require a permit. The shade structure is within the EVMWD shore zone and the city had not been permitting or inspecting anything in that zone for several years, including seawalls and docks. Much misinformation and false publicity was circulated about what transpired between the city and the POA on this project. Suffice it to say that as a result of what happened on this project, the City Building Department contractor, city manager and city attorney were all terminated. The public also chose not to re-elect the mayor who allowed all this to happen on her watch.

The Community has a beautiful new amenity which was constructed for $130,000, including $40,000 in additional costs created by the city. Both parties have moved on from this debacle and the city and POA relationships have never been stronger than they are today, and the city has once again started permitting and inspecting seawalls, docks, gazebos, etc. in the EVMWD shore zone. These are all very positive things for our community.

I am looking forward to working with the City Council to find ways to better serve the residents with the health, safety and security and cutting out duplicated expenses.