Occupation: business owner
Why are you running for office and why are you the best candidate for the position?
I have lived in the community for 40 years, been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years and with Evergreen Fire/Rescue for 36 years, still active by providing training. I am a huge proponent of the volunteer firefighter system, and I want to keep the volunteers happy. When I joined, we had two fire stations; now there are eight. I was involved with station building committees, obtaining better insurance ISO ratings for the district and accumulating apparatus for the department.
What are the three biggest challenges facing Evergreen Fire/Rescue?
While preparing for a wildland fire is a big challenge, I believe even bigger challenges are keeping up with growth, putting new stations where they need to be and updating stations that are no longer adequate. I am a real proponent of rebuilding Station 1 because it’s long overdue. We’ve been trying to build a new Station 1 for years.
How do you propose tackling those challenges?
New programs that Evergreen Fire/Rescue is developing to recruit volunteer firefighters are working, but retention programs need to be fine-tuned. My emphasis is to keep the volunteers happy because we don’t want to lose neighborhood response. Volunteers are the heartbeat of the organization. Retention is going to be the biggest challenge, and once the right programs are put into place, everything else will fall into place.
What experience or expertise would you bring to the Evergreen Fire board?
I have knowledge of many aspects of Evergreen Fire/Rescue: the equipment, the stations including when most were built and how they have been upgraded. I can bring that knowledge to help the department.
What would you do to promote openness and transparency in government?
I think the EFR board should do everything possible to provide information to both the public and to the EFR staff about the decisions it makes.
How can Evergreen Fire/Rescue better educate residents about fire mitigation?
The Evergreen Fire/Rescue website is filled with information so people can educate themselves about wildfire mitigation, especially on their property. The department is offering free one-hour home assessments as extensive triages of properties if people want to pay $150.
Who is responsible for writing grant applications to help with fire mitigation? Why?
It is the fire department’s responsibility to apply for grants and see what grant dollars are available. As far as EFR hiring a full-time grant writer, I don’t think that’s possible because of the cost for the position. Each division in the department is responsible for and has successfully written grants.
Evergreen Fire/Rescue has embarked on a new recruitment/training program this year. Is the department moving in the right direction? Why or why not?
I think the department’s new program is moving in the right direction, but it’s not there yet. I have some concerns that I will address if I’m elected. I think firefighters need to get more respect. Some have concerns about the new recruiting program, and I want to make sure their concerns are heard, and we can tweak the program in response to their concerns.
Station 1 is set to be built on Highway 73 south of Buffalo Park Road. What do you envision for that station, and is now the right time to start construction?
We are 15-20 years behind on building a new Station 1. We need to move the EMS staff out of Station 4, which was built by firefighters, and into a more up-to-date, modern Station 1. I would like them to have a comfortable atmosphere and a place for the crew to stay. I think it’s long overdue, plus I feel with the kinds of buildings in downtown Evergreen, we need a station that is going to accommodate big equipment. The current Station 1 is too small for the larger trucks.
How can Evergreen Fire/Rescue improve communication with constituents?
In addition to the website, the fire prevention division has a great opportunity to communicate with residents and business owners when it does inspections. That is something the fire prevention division should be capable of doing.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
I have been in the volunteer fire service since I was 16 years old in Ohio. I was the first 18-year-old to be a full-fledged firefighter there. When I came to EFR, it was important to me to improve the rescue service. As a volunteer firefighter, I served in the volunteers’ leadership, and I rose to the rank of deputy chief. I have been a successful business owner for 32 years, a member of the Evergreen chamber since 1987 and married to Leslie for 23 years.