President of the Copper Ridge HOA board, Shaun Goeckner with Thomas Hirtzel and Carmen Maria Valdez denied the 2 duly elected members a position on the board. One homeowner stated that the board is starting to look a little racist as they have chosen to target the only 2 African-American women on the board who have stood up for transparency in the community.
In a surprising turn of events the homeowners of the Copper Ridge HOA Community in Valrico, FL came together during their recent election on November 7th to meet quorum for the first time in 15 years, according to homeowners and against all odds created by the majority ruling HOA board members in March 2022.
In an alleged attempt to stop the homeowners from having their ballots opened once again, the majority ruling board members had the bylaws amended on March 22, 2022, to increase the quorum to 20% without notice to the membership as stated in the bylaw, articles, and section 720 of the Florida statutes. In addition, other changes were implemented during that recording that extended the board member’s terms from 2 to 3 years, among other provisions. You can learn more about these changes here.
Nonetheless, a coalition of homeowners got together and went door to door collecting ballots and informing the community membership that an election was soon approaching and that the community needed to make quorum. Homeowners got together and submitted their ballots to the tune of over 320 ballots, well over 30% of the membership.
The HOA board with the assistance of the Property Manager/Regional Director at FirstService Residential, Mark Doyle had ballots eliminated over fines during his moment with the election monitor as they went down the list of homeowners. There is a possibility that a few more homeowners could have been added to that list prior to the election if you look at public records filings for liens on November 1st.
The Treasurer requested the number of homeowners whose voting rights were suspended for the 2023 election in order to verify the records. However, the board, the property manager, Mark Doyle, the election monitor, James Gonzalez, or anyone else at FirstService Residential that was included in the email request did not respond to her inquiry.
In the end, the homeowners met quorum and had their ballots opened for the first time in 15 years by some homeowner’s estimates. That may have been a battle the homeowners won against their HOA board. However, it wasn’t going to be the last time the board asserted their authority over the community membership, as it was shown during their recent organizational meeting on Tuesday, November 14th, 2023.
Copper Ridge HOA Board Organizational Meeting
During the Copper Ridge HOA board organizational meeting, the majority ruling board members, which consisted of the now President, Shaun Goeckner, Thomas Hirtzel who is now the Treasurer since the organizational meeting, and Carmen Maria Valdez Calixo who is now both the Vice President and the Secretary of the board decided that the 2 new duly elected members Telisha Catchings and Carmen Gay would not have a position on the board.
According to the President, Shaun Goeckner, the 2 new members chosen by the homeowners would not be allowed to hold a title on the board, they would instead become “Directors at large” at best. When asked by Ms. Catchings, “Why does Maria have two positions instead of one?” Mr. Goeckner responded with, “Because we can”. Thomas Hirtzel seconded the motion and Carmen Maria Valdez gave the final majority vote.
Ms. Catchings later gave a follow-up question to the board stating, “What is the reason Maria has two positions when Carmen or myself can take one of those positions?” Mr. Goeckner who has been a sitting board member for around 15 years responded to Ms. Catchings stating, “Frankly, we don’t trust you.”
One homeowner commented on Facebook Live, “Way to stack the Deck”, another homeowner stated, “This is unbelievable”, another homeowner said, “I’m appalled. Absolutely unacceptable.” and yet another homeowner stated that “the board’s behavior is starting to look racist.” as they felt that only the two African-American women were being singled out.
During the Organizational meeting, Mr. Goeckner allegedly muted homeowners from speaking. Alicia Robles told the board, “I haven’t finished my conversation” after unmuting herself, followed by, “Why do you keep on muting me? as Mr. Goeckner continued to mute her microphone. Ms. Robles stated that she “has been muted several times.” Another homeowner stated, “This is a cowardly meeting.”
For now, it seems the majority ruling members of the board have the full intention of keeping anyone the homeowners elect away from any prime authority. This includes access to records, the attorney, or the property management company, FirstService Residential, led by the President of the board, Shaun Goeckner, sitting at the helm of the post once again as he muted the homeowners from speaking at the organizational meeting.
This is a developing story. If you have any insight or insider information on FirstService Residential’s method of operation and would like to stay anonymous, give our investigative experts a call and a chance to hear your case. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org