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Letter to the Editor: HOA proxies often get used for unintended purpose

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To the Editor:

My name is Sam Wellington. I am the creator and co-founder of the Franklin Alliance of Homeowner Associations, aka FAHOA, which now represents some 14 HOAs in Franklin’s Ward 3. 

The growth of this organization is largely due to the efforts of its current leader, Rich Buckner, board president of the Creekstone Community. I have been a resident of Forrest Crossing for 20 years and have served on the HOA board for six years, four of which as board president. 

I’ve said all that to say this: I have a growing concern about the election process used by some HOAs, including Forrest Crossing. The issue deals with proxies and the role they play in bringing candidates to board positions. Many HOAs say the primary reason for proxies is that they are needed to ensure a quorum on election night, thereby avoiding the possibility of a cancelled meeting and subsequent mandatory rescheduling. 

A problem arises when a proxy is returned with no designated homeowner’s name. When this happens, the proxy immediately goes to the board president to vote for himself or anyone else he chooses. In other words, to quote verbatim from the Forrest Crossing official proxy form, “If no proxy is designated above, the Board President will be the proxy.” 

The same declaration is reiterated at the bottom of the official proxy form. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I personally benefitted from this procedure and on one election occasion, was handed more than 40 undesignated proxies to vote for myself or anyone else of my choosing. 

I feel this practice is unfair and could be used — and possibly has been used — to rig an election. 

Additionally, any homeowner can go door to door to see if he/she can find residents who do not plan to attend the annual election meeting and request their proxies, claiming the individual homeowner proxy is needed again to ensure a quorum for the meeting. 

It is my belief that the proxy solicitor is seeking the proxy solely for its voting power. This process is especially helpful to board members running for election or re-election. I have seen several board members amass as many as 75 proxies each, creating a nearly unbeatable block of votes to support their own candidacy or that of another candidate they are supporting. 

I call the procedure a “legal scam” and feel the Forrest Crossing HOA covenants need to be changed to eliminate it. My thinking is a proxy should be used solely to ensure a quorum and nothing else. 

However, making a change to the covenants is indeed a monumental task, since 75% of our HOA homeowners need to support any issue before a change can be made. 

There are 632 residences in Forrest Crossing. Thus, 474 homeowners would have to support — by petition — the change in covenants to make a revision.

Nevertheless, I plan to form a group of likeminded residents to explore the possibility of making this very necessary change to our community’s governing documents. Volunteers who support this cause are welcomed and needed. 

Sam Wellington


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