POINCIANA – There’s an election coming up shortly in the Sunshine State, and there are multiple candidates running who face a variety of critical issues, including unemployment, the housing market crisis, jobs and business growth.
But that election isn’t Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary, where the field has narrowed down to just four candidates: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congressman Ron Paul, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Florida Republicans will vote on Tuesday in a competitive primary that’s considered crucial in potentially narrowing the field of GOP contenders.
The other election is being held on Tuesday, Feb. 7, in parts of two counties, Osceola and Polk. And while there are already multiple candidates running, even more can jump into the race – right up until election day.
It’s a study not in national politics, but the ultimate in local politics – in particular the complex rules that governor those elected to represent homeowner’s associations.
“You really can’t compare, because unlike a municipal-type election, it doesn’t matter if you live in Istanbul. If you own property here, you can come in and vote,” said Jeanette Coughenour, the manager of the Association of Poinciana Villages, the homeowners association that governs the 10 villages that make up the community of Poinciana. “That’s just homeowners association laws. We work with it.”
Poinciana is a community of 84,000 people across two counties, and on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the people living there will have an opportunity to vote to elect representatives to the APV’s board of directors. The voting takes place from noon to 6:30 p.m. at the APV office on Marigold Avenue.
“We may get some new people on the board,” Coughenour said. “We’ll see what happens with that.”
Eight of Poinciana’s villages will be participating in the voting. One of the two exceptions is Village 10, the Solivita development. Solivita used to send a representative to the APV, but last year the APV board of directors accepted Solivita’s request to remove its representative from the board. Solivita already has its own homeowners association and no longer wanted representation on the community’s APV board.
“Solivita was separated from under the auspices of the APV,” Coughenour said, and would not be voting to send someone to represent the development starting this year.
The other village that won’t be voting is Village Nine, the Broadmoor community, which already voted during the first week in January, and opted to place its representative, Robert “Buck” Raith, and a new member, Renate Ward.
“They’re already done,” Coughenour said of Broadmoor. “Broadmoor has always had their own association documents, and in their documents they determine when their elections will take place. They’re on one year terms and their elections take place every January. Buck Raith is a member of the Village 9 homeowners association, but he was not named director of the board. Now Renate Ward is the representative from Village 9 who will serve as their director to APV’s board of directors.”
On Feb. 7, “Eight villages will be holding elections for staggered terms,” Coughenour said. “If you have two people running and only two people are up, obviously we don’t need an election.”
Coughenour said it’s impossible now to provide a complete list of the candidates, since anyone who lives in and owns property in Poinciana can file to run — right up until election day. The qualifications for running are fairly liberal.
“You have to not owe any money, show your I.D., and you have to own property here,” she said.
The eight people elected on Feb. 7 will join Ward in representing the entire community of Poinciana on the APV’s board of directors, setting regulations for the homes here, as well as the association dues that residents pay.
There are a lot of critical issues facing Poinciana, which grew up leaps and bounds in the past decade, from 20,000 people to more than 84,000. At the height of the real estate boom, new homes were getting built here every 90 days.
But when the market went bust, the community was saddled with a high home foreclosure rate and an equally soaring unemployment rate.
Things are looking up now for Poinciana. On Feb. 7, the community will celebrate the groundbreaking for the Poinciana Medical Center, the new hospital being built here by Osceola Regional Medical Center of Kissimmee. Osceola County commissioners have also signed on to taking over the construction of the Poinciana Parkway, a toll road that would provide easier access in and out of the community.
But even with all these critical issues facing Poinciana, Coughenour noted that “Historically, the voter turnout is very, very, very light.”
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