By Greg Ellison
(March 26, 2020) Counting improved business operations and courteous meeting deliberations among her first-term accomplishments, OPA Director Dr. Colette Horn announced her intentions this week to seek re-election in 2020.
Since winning a board seat in 2017, Horn said the directors have functioned productively to achieve a wealth of goals for association membership and anticipates more progress ahead.
“I’d like to be part of the continuation of this work,” she said.
The motivations for her initial candidacy were slightly different.
“When I ran, the concern at that time was bringing Ocean Pines to the next level of best business practices,” she said. “We had some financial issues [and] we had leadership issues.”
Horn said the shift in board membership over the last three elections, which included Doug Parks in 2017, followed by Frank Daly and Steve Tuttle in 2018, with Tom Janasek, Larry Perrone and Camilla Rogers joining the fold last year, has helped changed the culture and public narrative.
“It’s a really good group of people who don’t necessarily agree on everything, but agree on the mission,” she said.
The goal when Horn joined the board was improving director interactions and conduct to move the association toward a better approach to handling the association’s business.
“There was a lot of infighting on the board, insults [and] questionable ethical practices,” she said.
Horn, a mental health professional, believed she also would be a stabilizing influence on the board.
“One of the things I wanted to achieve right off the bat was the [Director and Officer] Ethics and Conduct Resolution B-08,” she said.
Although not called into account since being adopted in July 2018, the resolution requires proper meeting decorum and responsible management of association finances.
“It’s a nice guidepost that … maybe has contributed to settling down the drama, if you will, and the conflict on the board,” she said.
Horn said the more business-like climate now maintained during board meetings has resulted in positive community feedback.
“We are engaging in respectful, civil discourse and airing our differences in a way that respects the diversity of perspective and opinions,” she said.
Horn noted the smoother board operations has led to some association-changing achievements, including inking the Matt Ortt Company to operate food and beverage services at the OPA Yacht Club and Beach Club.
“It was a bit of a risk, I think, on both sides,” she said.
Since finalizing negations during her first year on the board, Horn said the partnership with the Ortt Companies has proven profitable and turned around a previously failing financial picture at both amenities.
“We were able to write a contract that supported success going forward,” she said.
Horn said another achievement of note, although still in progress, is the new OPA Golf Course Clubhouse.
“The golf clubhouse was a big issue in my first term,” she said.
With plans wavering between renovating the existing structure and erecting a new building, Horn credited a site analysis for guiding the decision process.
“In my first year, it became apparent, at least to me, that renovating was not going to be the way to go,” she said. “The basic structure of the building was not going to support what was required.”
In addition to recognizing that renovating wouldn’t work for a second floor, Horn said she also saw the clubhouse’s lack of community appeal outside the golfing group.
“Now that it is a clubhouse, that it’s not going to be just for golf but for the community, we get the best of both worlds there,” she said.
Horn also mentioned her support of purchasing Northstar software to handle the association’s finances.
“I was opposed to outsourcing our business operations and in favor of using our internal talent, but giving them the tools that they need to bring our business practices to the next level,” she said.
Horn said the improved fiscal controls were launched when General Manager John Viola took over the position and established solid leadership after a period of managerial volatility.
“I’m also pretty proud that when we had a change of leadership in the GM’s office that we were able to have such a highly qualified individual … sign on for a 30-month contract,” she said.
Horn said Viola has managed to tighten the financial reins while simultaneously solving inherited problems.
“I’m really pleased with the leadership he has provided to get the results that the membership has been crying for,” she said.
As one example, Horn pointed to longstanding concerns about inadequate storm water drainage that are now being addressed.
“Obviously, we’re not going to solve the drainage but we’re working diligently on doing improvements that we can do,” she said.
With a solid working relationship between and the board and OPA administration, Horn is seeking a second term in hopes of furthering the successful reorganization launched in conjunction with Viola.
“He has the qualifications, knowledge and experience to deliver what we need in the way of leadership for the organization,” she said.
“He’s a subject matter expert in his role and the board listens to him and considers his perspective.”
The 2020 OPA Board candidates are scheduled to appear at a public forum on June 17 with a second forum on June 27 if required. The cutoff date for voter eligibility is July 3 with ballots mailed out no later than July 10. The deadline for ballot submission is Aug. 5 with results unveiled two days later.