RANCHO SANTA FE — Rancho Santa Fe residents have never seen anything like it before. While four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors, some campaigning efforts mirror the price tag of a mayoral race.
Not all the candidates are doing it — just a couple.
And this concerns candidate Susan Callahan.
“The amount of money that is being spent makes me wonder what the motive would be,” Callahan said. “These are volunteer positions to work very hard for three years on a homeowner’s board and I just don’t understand these huge amounts of money going towards this campaign.”
When Callahan decided to run for a seat, she never dreamed anything like this would happen. Past campaigning in the Ranch has been quiet. For Callahan, and much of the community, it took many by surprise.
And with this heavy-handed campaigning, a contentious climate has emerged.
Callahan referred to the current board president, Philip Wilkinson’s recent written statement, describing the campaigns of a couple of candidates as a platform for mudslinging, bringing on high paid campaign consultants, door-to-door campaigning, and costly websites.
“It’s a mystery to all of us because it’s all so unprecedented in the Ranch and we don’t know what the agenda is,” she said.
Callahan, a resident of the Ranch since 2000, said there is division in their community. There is the idea of an “old guard” versus “new guard” at odds with each other.
For Callahan, it doesn’t need to be that way. And neighbors shouldn’t be pitted against one another.
While new ideas such as broadband wireless, a fitness center, the possibility of condo owners having voting rights are great ideas to look into, Callahan said, anything that moves forward should be done in keeping the traditions of Rancho Santa Fe alive.
It’s all about dealing with one issue at a time and bringing the community back together again, she said.
“It’s my sincere opinion that nothing can be accomplished if we return to the status quo,” Callahan said. She continued, “It’s time to move our community forward and I believe I can help do that — the words and actions we need are civility and cooperation.”
Callahan wants people to know that a community is made up of everyone and should not be divided.
In Callahan’s line of nonprofit and humanitarian work, she serves as the director of communications for International Relief Teams. In the nonprofit world, she said, it’s underscored with integrity and fiscal responsibility.
She has also been involved in numerous boards spanning internationally, nationally and in her own community. Additionally, she was a member of the La Jolla Town Council for three years.
Callahan said she has no agendas and is not beholden to any groups.
“There is a certain expertise with working on a board. And while there can be controversial issues, there is a manner and way in handling these issues that don’t have to be so divisive,” said Callahan, adding how she can offer this to the Association.
As far as Callahan is concerned, there is disharmony in the Ranch and she wants to take a stand for the citizens.
“We have a divided board and a demoralized staff — we need to put everything behind us in a fresh way and move forward,” she said.
Also running are Ann Boon, Dominick Addario and Kim Eggleston.