The Country Club board elected longtime Murietan Mike Martel as 2018 club president in executive session following its open meeting Thursday night.
In an interview Saturday, Martel said once the new board is fully seated, next month, it will develop a strategic plan to address the club’s problems.
“I ran because I want to get the community together, I want to support the club,” he said. “I think we have to get the Country Club back to where it once was, and that’s where it’s enjoyable for a lot of people, affordable for a lot of people. We should have higher expectations and make it special for everybody.”
Martel, who has lived in the community 30 years, has a long Rancho Murieta resume.
He served on the club board two decades ago. He headed a group of volunteers who established the Summerfest community event in 2000 and continue to run it. He was elected to a term on the Community Services District board in 2012 before losing a reelection bid last year and won two terms on the Rancho Murieta Association board, serving from 2003 to 2009. He was RMA board president briefly in 2007.
From these various board chairs, and in behind-the-scenes politicking, Martel has demonstrated a willingness to push hard for things he believes in, sometimes ruffling feathers. At Thursday night’s open session, he crossed swords with the board over a confidentiality agreement he refused to sign. Eventually, he agreed to sign an amended version, and he said the new form was an improvement for everyone on the board.
“I really love Rancho Murieta,” he said Saturday. “I try to act like a protector for it, to preserve it and make sure we continue to make it special. I have something to offer. I think there’s a lot of good people out here, with a lot of smartness, who are willing to help.”
While acknowledging he won the presidency in a split board vote, he predicted, “I think you’re going to see us all get along real well.”
Martel and four new directors took over a majority of the nine-member board in this fall’s elections, which were a referendum on whether the club should file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. Martel was one of a lengthy slate of candidates who opposed the move.
The club has been in a state of suspended animation for almost two years, due to its near-sale to a retired Southern California golf industry executive. The deal fell apart last summer because Operating Engineers Local 3, which represents the club’s landscape workers, required $3 million to settle a shortfall in its pension before it would allow the club to terminate its union arrangement and complete the sale. That settlement amount – almost as much as the club sale price – scuttled the deal.
“A lot of people agreed, the purchase really would have benefitted the community,” Martel said. “But when that didn’t go through, I’m not sure everybody was prepared for Plan B or Plan C. So now we have to move into Plan B or Plan C.”