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Kenneth Markstein will succeed Fred Wasserman as president of the Rancho Santa Fe Association board. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
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Three candidates vying for two seats on RSFA board

Three candidates are vying for two open seats on the Rancho Santa Fe Association board. On May 10, Covenant residents gathered at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club to hear the positions of each candidate in the election.

According to the Association, all ballots have been mailed out and are due back no later than 5 p.m. June 11. The votes will be counted on June 12.

Fred Wasserman and Michael Gallagher are the two incumbents seeking re-election and Sharon Ruhnau is the third candidate. Each of them had an opportunity to say a few words after the Association’s annual meeting. 

First up was Ruhnau. A resident of the Covenant for more than 20 years, Ruhnau has served on Rancho Santa Fe Association committees such as the Governing Documents and Review Committee, Recreation and Trail Committee and Rancho Osuna Committee.

When Ruhnau spoke, she told Covenant residents in the audience how fortunate she felt to live in the Ranch. She was thankful to its founders, and the many people that followed. Ruhnau said she wanted to continue that tradition.

“It takes hard work to protect what we have here,” she said, adding she was a longtime litigator.

Ruhnau went on to share her concerns about the downtown decline and the competitive growth of other communities around the Covenant. Ruhnau said the Covenant must make its community more attractive with the culture of innovation. She believes that RSF Connect, the 1-gigabit fiber-optic network to be built and owned by the Rancho Santa Fe Association, is part of this innovation. She also addressed the need to tackle the rising costs of water and to rejuvenate the town through small entrepreneurship and nurturing local businesses.

Ruhnau also said the Association board should be both accessible and accountable to its members.

“We want to create a Ranch that future generations will enjoy as much as we do,” she said. “We can only do this together.”

Next up was Gallagher, a retired CEO, who was appointed to the Association board following the resignation of Mike Licosati last November. Gallagher has been a Covenant resident for 13 years. He called his seat on the board a great experience.

He went on to say how his observations revealed a hardworking community filled with people who care. In addition to his seat on the Association board, Gallagher also serves as a board liaison to the committee of the Osuna Ranch, is a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee of the RSF Golf Club and is part of the Association’s ad hoc Water Committee.

Gallagher said things work best with a long-term strategy — it helps identify action plans. Since his seat on the Association board last year, Gallagher has initiated a five-year strategic plan for entities such as Osuna Ranch, the Rancho Santa Fe Tennis Club and Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.

Gallagher said now is the time for the Association to have a five-year strategic plan.

“The things this board does is strategic — the issues we face is strategic,” he said, noting the Association’s desire to underground utilities and dealing with rising in water rates. 

Gallagher also wanted members in the audience to know that the Association staff is the backbone.

“We need well-qualified, capable people and give them the resources they need to accomplish the major goals — we have such a staff now,” he said.

The last to speak was Wasserman, who currently serves as board president of the Rancho Santa Fe Association. A resident of the Covenant for eight years, Wasserman is a current member of the Association’s Governance Committee and formerly served on the Finance Committee.

He told Covenant members at the candidate forum what a terrific time he has had collaborating with his fellow board members. Wasserman also noted how much time each member puts into serving their community.

“It’s been a pleasure to be (RSF Association) president,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun doing it — it’s hard work, but I don’t mind it as long as we see the results.”

Wasserman went on to say the idea of bringing fiber optics into the Rancho started in 2011.

“And this (current) board put it (RSF Connect) together,” he said. “This to me is an exciting period I hope you consider me on the continuance of this board, so I can see these projects come to fruition.”

Wasserman reiterated that RSF Connect, a $13 million fiber-optic network, could not have been done without the Tech Committee. He said it is rare it to find such highly skilled committee members who continue to give so much of their time and effort to make the Covenant a better place to live.

Ballots have been mailed to Covenant residents. Members must submit their ballots by 5 p.m. on June 11. On June 12, ballots will be tallied revealing the candidates who secured board seats. For more information about this election, call the Association at (858) 756-1174.