One day after Scott McNeil was sworn in to his Cameron Park Community Services District board seat his fellow directors elected him president of the board.
Running the Mira Loma Café for three years changed McNeil’s perspective, he said. It exposed him to local politics and people. “It really got me out into the community.”
Some of those café friends got together and suggested he mount a campaign for the board. None were political activists, per se, but as one ebullient supporter put it after the election, “It’s amazing what a bunch of goofballs can do when they put their minds together.”
Early on McNeil’s campaign adopted an educational strategy, explaining the CSD’s responsibilities (parks and recreation, fire and ambulance, trash pickup, CC&R enforcement and landscape and lighting district administration) and why Cameron Park residents should care about it. “Your tax dollars go into this and it affects where you live,” said McNeil, 51. “You should care.”
The new president said he hopes to lure the voters he met on the campaign trail into greater involvement with the district.
“Some of those front door discussions we had were quite detailed,” he said. “A lot of people want to be heard. They have a lot to contribute.”
McNeil also said he wants to engage Cameron Park youth in local government, perhaps via high school government classes. His daughter attended meetings with him and became thoroughly engaged, he said.
McNeil joins fellow freshman Shiva Frentzen and Greg Stanton on the board. All three new directors cite the district budget as their biggest concern. McNeil is characteristically upbeat about it.
“Ultimately, I think this board will handle it in the fairest way possible,” he said. “Once we see how it’s going to affect the district we’ll be in a position to make the tough fiscal decisions.”
The current board is the first one to be fully elected in the last 12 years, he said. Directors are appointed to fill vacant seats, or when a seat is uncontested in an election.
“Everyone, including the standing board members, wants this board to be removed from the old stuff,” he said, a commitment to consistent professional conduct and transparency that in the past faltered.
McNeil’s glass-half-full outlook was well received in the campaign. He was the top vote-getter among the five candidates garnering 4,112 of 13,453 votes cast.
McNeil’s optimism seems genuine. His easy smile, youthful good looks and engaging conversation — he asks a lot of questions — confirm the impression of a fresh-faced local politician that’s light on experience, but possesses a burning passion for local government; a public servant who is open to new ideas and willing to work hard to achieve them.
No wonder his fellow directors elected him president of the board.