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First Candidate Statement

Elisabeth Watson at The Sea Ranch with husband and pup

I first discovered Sea Ranch in the early ’90s. Like you, I was entranced, and I visited as often as I could. When my husband Nigel and I bought our home on Tallgrass 10 years ago, it was the realization of a long held dream. We fell in love with the natural beauty, but it is the people that make The Sea Ranch truly special. You’ll often hear me say that “You come for the views, but you stay for the people.” Our community is rich with wisdom, experience, passion, intelligence, and purpose. It is our community, our membership, that inspires me to continue my service on the Board of Directors.

We split our time between Sea Ranch and Berkeley, and I have been an active community member in both. I was a member of the Sea Ranch Connect Task Force, where I worked on communications and organized the Forum on SRC. I served on the Trails Committee, and I coordinate and present the annual 4th of July reading and celebration. In Berkeley, I was President of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation during our capital campaign to outfit the four newly rebuilt/refurbished branch libraries. We successfully met our campaign goals despite the recession. I served as a Zero Waste Commissioner and on the Citizen’s Advisory Group for transit oriented housing development. I was Chair of the 2020 Independent Redistricting Commission where, unlike many cities, we delivered new City Council District maps on time, on budget, and with no legal challenges.

Professionally, my work as a real estate broker means that I negotiate and manage risk daily and am cognizant of the impact of HOA actions on home values.  I’ve worked as a consultant for business process improvement and software implementation projects, and on mergers and divestitures. Prior to business school, I was a teacher in the New York City public schools. Anyone who has worked with teenagers knows that you should be ready for anything and everything – a useful quality in a director.

I have served as a Director for TSRA since August

Most importantly, I have served as a Director for TSRA since August, when I was appointed to fill a mid-term vacancy. It has been a fascinating, challenging, and rewarding experience. I spent hours on this year’s budget and the 30-year plan. Digesting our budget, a critical window into our values and priorities, is a big job for a first year board member. I weighed what we have to spend today, what can wait until tomorrow but must be planned for now, what we can do to offset future costs, and how we can manage risk so that Sea Ranch’s resilience is assured. 

Hiring our new Community Manager may be the current Board’s single largest contribution to TSRA. Supporting Menka during her first few weeks, characterized the by the term “bomb cyclone,” might have been our biggest challenge. Being a community leader during the January storms was not easy. I felt both helpless and responsible. I couldn’t make the lights come on or the wind stop blowing and you certainly don’t want me anywhere near a chainsaw. But I did learn critical lessons about our resilience and emergency preparedness that will continue to impact my policy and budget decisions.

Elisabeth volutneers at The Sea Ranch
I will continue to work for good governance

As your Director, I will continue to work towards good governance that is focused on policy and not operational management and to improve our working relationships as a board and with our membership so that we set the right tone for the community. I will ensure that the membership has up-to-date access to the information we all need to provide input and make good decisions. I strongly believe that while we don’t always agree on how to do it, we all want what’s best for our community and our natural environment, both now and in the future. We can and should trust each other’s intentions when seeking solutions. If the issues we face were simple, they would have been addressed long ago. Complex problems, such as our response to climate change, require nuanced solutions informed by experts and arrived at by people of good will. My experience as a consultant to and leader of organizations in transition positions me to help us move towards a more collegial approach to problem solving that is based on factual analysis and rooted in a shared passion for our coastal home. 


I hope you’ll see a few common themes here. I am good at identifying and describing problems and issues. I’m deeply curious and love the challenge of getting to the root cause of issues and problems. I then work hard to develop good alternatives and to focus on applicable, practical, fiscally sustainable solutions. I crave data and numbers but believe in character and experience and use both to make decisions. I build and/or support strong teams of people with diverse points of view who actively participate and contribute. I’m not afraid of disagreement, I admit it when I’m wrong, and I’m capable of changing my mind when presented with facts and sound arguments. I try to keep an open mind. I welcome responsibility. I take my responsibilities seriously, but I believe in the power of humor and perspective. I work with a sense of urgency but am realistic about how much can be done with the resources, money, time, and skills available to us. I follow the maxim “Do the next right thing.” More practically, I’m well versed in the practices and ethics of open meetings, public input, and transparent governance. I also have enormous respect for the people who work for and around our community. I am passionate and care deeply about the people, places, and ideas that I love and cherish, most especially The Sea Ranch.


My campaign is an opportunity for me to learn more about you and what you want for our community. I welcome your questions and your ideas. Visit my website to learn more about my positions and to ask questions. I would be honored to continue to serve the membership as your director.

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This statement was submitted to TSRA on March 14, 2023

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