Why are you running for office and why are you the best candidate for the position?
My service on the Board of Directors for ECFPD, the Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce, Conifer Area Council and numerous local committees for the past 13 years gives me a unique perspective into the culture of our community. Furthermore, as an architect at a local firm, I work daily to navigate the challenges of building in the foothills. Community involvement and outreach, sustainable development and funding challenges are all issues I’ve tackled in my various roles. I feel these qualifications all make me uniquely qualified to help the fire district face our upcoming challenges.
What are the three biggest challenges facing the Elk Creek Fire District?
The biggest challenge facing the district is the constant year-round threat of wildfire in an area that for many years has not prioritized mitigation and building within the Wildland Urban Interface. Second, we need to ensure the department has adequate funding and staffing to ensure it can maintain the level of service for the district. Finally, the potential consolidation with the other 285 Corridor fire districts poses both a challenge and a potential opportunity for our district.
How do you propose tackling those challenges?
We need to continue and grow our district-wide mitigation programs including the Community Chipping Program and Ambassador Program as well as our efforts to work with Jefferson County for adoption of local codes to improve the safety of our community as it relates to construction within the Wildland Urban Interface. The Board of Directors needs to maintain the financial stability of the department and look for ways to support and attract volunteer firefighters. Finally, we need to maintain an open dialog with the community as we explore the challenges and opportunities associated with consolidation.
What experience or expertise would you bring to the Elk Creek board?
As an architect, I work closely with Jefferson County Planning and Zoning as well as the Building Department, local builders and engineers to navigate local and national building codes as well as develop solutions to challenges unique to our area. This experience will be vital as we continue to revise our local codes to respond to the growing wildfire threats. My continued volunteer involvement working with local organizations allows me to be uniquely positioned to aid in education, engagement and fundraising at the community level.
What would you do to promote openness and transparency in government?
I encourage everyone to come to our open meetings and other area public meetings to learn what’s going on and ask questions. We have a public comment period during our monthly board meetings and often receive very thoughtful questions from those attending. That feedback is incredibly valuable and welcome! As the current secretary of the ECFPD board, I take my job very seriously to ensure our bylaws are being followed and our meeting minutes are being faithfully recorded for posterity.
How can Elk Creek better educate residents about fire mitigation?
I am very proud of our Home Assessment and Community Ambassador programs run by our Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, Kelleigh McConnaughey. These programs have provided our community with the opportunity for a property review to identify specific improvements that can be made to improve their safety from wildfire. The ambassador program is empowering our residents to engage in mitigation education within their local neighborhoods to lower risk at a broader level than a single property. Both programs are currently gaining momentum, and I am excited to help this effort continue to grow!
Inter-Canyon, Elk Creek, Indian Hills and North Fork fire departments are discussing consolidation. What is the biggest asset to such a merger, and what is the biggest barrier?
ECFPD recently hired an independent consulting firm to assess the Highway 285 fire districts and provide pros and cons of consolidating with options for the future. We are in the early stages of exploring those options with the other district boards. The goal is to improve our level of service to the district. If this can be achieved and make our operations more efficient, consolidation would be an asset to our district. However, the various departments each have their own identities and cultures. Consolidation will require a consensus. Ultimately, it’s up to the voters to decide how they’d like to proceed.
Do you feel that consolidation is a wise decision for Elk Creek?
I believe we need to explore all options and engage the community in our discussions to determine the best path forward. If consolidation means improved medical and fire services for our districts, saves taxpayer dollars, is supported by the residents and a consensus between the departments can be achieved, then I am 100% in favor of consolidation. However, this decision is ultimately up to the voters. I encourage everyone to become fully informed and involved in this process. If you haven’t yet, please read the report posted on our website and plan to attend consolidation community meetings.
Two large residential developments are being proposed in the Elk Creek Fire District. What is the department’s responsibility to ensuring it can provide emergency services to all of its constituents?
It is the department’s responsibility to ensure that the current level of service is not reduced by future developments. However, it is important to note, the department is required to service all properties within the district even if the department does not approve of how properties are developed. Historically developments in the district have been approved by Jefferson County with little regard as to whether the department is equipped to provide service. It is important for the department to be part of the conversation to ensure inevitable growth is sustainable within the department’s ability to provide service to its constituents.
How can Elk Creek improve communication with constituents?
Communication within our district relies heavily upon outreach and engagement. It requires a multi-tiered approach to ensure maximum reach within the district. Sharing information at community meetings, special events and social media makes information accessible. However, empowering constituents to share this knowledge with others is the key to building a well-informed and actively engaged community. The Ambassador Program is an excellent example of how this can be achieved. Supporting and growing this program in addition to continued Town Hall presentations, community informational meetings, special events and social media campaigns are ways we can improve our communication with our constituents.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
On a personal note, I found myself in need emergency medical services for my husband within the first year of living in the district. I am eternally grateful Elk Creek Fire was available when I needed them most. That experience has shaped my passion for serving my local community and ensuring that the ECFPD’s services continue to be available for both its current and future residents.