Occupation: business owner
Why are you running for office and why are you the best candidate for the position?
Evergreen is a beautiful place to preserve, and I see several significant issues facing our community that need to be addressed simultaneous with the same degree of urgency. Evergreen faces issues with catastrophic and severe consequences, so we do not have the luxury of time. Each issue has a blueprint: What we need now is a definitive plan of action to implement. As a business owner, I understand that the time to address issues is before they become greater and more complex. My experience with personnel, finance and leadership will be an asset as we tackle the challenges in our community.
What are the three biggest challenges facing Evergreen Fire/Rescue?
The top three challenges are the significant drop in our volunteer force which is down 30-40%, the extreme wildfire danger to our community affecting loss of property and loss of life, and the expenditure on a capital project such as Station 1.
How do you propose tackling those challenges?
Each of these challenges needs to be met with the same degree of magnitude as ultimately, they are entwined and of equal importance. We need the board of directors, the volunteer force and the paid staff to work collaboratively in addressing the challenges with each pillar offering knowledge, support and commitment to ensure the common goal is accomplished. We must not lose sight that the community is who we are to serve and protect, and ensure that each decision made addresses that outcome.
What experience or expertise would you bring to the Evergreen Fire board?
As a small business owner, I must meet the needs of my business, employees and customers all at the same time. The skills I have acquired in leadership, communication, time and financial management will be of value for the position of Board of Directors. I have experience in addressing difficult and complex issues like we had to do during COVID. In addition, I was a dispatcher for Evergreen Fire, giving me valuable insight into the structure and organization of the department. I understand the geography and landscape of the area, thus having the basis to move forward quickly.
What would you do to promote openness and transparency in government?
Openness and transparency are critical and non-negotiable within a special district. With minimal exception, most information in the department is public record. In addition, openness fosters a better relationship between the department, volunteers and community. I am committed to working on making sure the channels of communication and concern are open and available. Several successful surrounding departments hold town halls, which is a great place for us to start.
How can Evergreen Fire/Rescue better educate residents about fire mitigation?
In 2007, the first Community Wildfire Protection Plan was written followed by an updated plan in 2020. Within this plan is a blueprint of how to address the challenges we face as a community. We need to get more of the 26 Plan Units organized and educated, spreading the information and taking action. In our age of technology, one would not think it would be so difficult to communicate, but sometimes it is. We have to take a multi-front approach to get the word out to the community through social media, Realtors, insurance companies, other written publications and HOAs.
Who is responsible for writing grant applications to help with fire mitigation? Why?
The fire-mitigation issue is the responsibility of every member in our community from the board of directors to the department to the citizens. Grant writing is the key to ensuring that the millions of dollars in funds available from the state and federal government for mitigation are available and awarded to our community. Participation in most federal and state grants requires grants be submitted and administered by the department to be awarded. Our community cannot afford to walk away from another multi-million-dollar grant opportunity, so we must have someone from within the department to write 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?
Bottom line, we need to recruit because our volunteer base is significantly depleted. We need to do so by looking at all options based on in-district vs. out-of-district plus lateral transfers. We must consider the volunteer base already in place and move in a positive direction. The key to a successful volunteer department is minimal turnover, and more skilled and experienced members who are committed to the community because they are part of the community. This will ensure we provide a quicker response and quality service.
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?
Station 1 should be the anchor of the south side of the district like station 2 is to the north side. It should include the appropriate number of bays for the apparatus, living quarters for the medics, and a place to unify career member and volunteers. We must do our due diligence given the uncertainties with rising costs and supply. We also must ensure that there is a balance with the funds of the department to address all financial requirements as we are responsible for more than just building a station.
How can Evergreen Fire/Rescue improve communication with constituents?
The best way to improve communication with anyone is to have a dialogue. Allow concerns to be expressed, listen to the concerns and then respond. Realize that we are all part of the solutions and answers. Remember that it was the people of Evergreen that started the volunteer department; raised funds for the first patient transport to the hospitals, thus creating an ambulance service; and organized the CWPIP (community wildfire protection and implementation plan) and have earned grant money for evacuation routes They are an integral piece to the success of the department and have earned a seat at the table.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
I will work hard for the community and the department. I am dedicated to bringing all challenges front and center, and to work on creating results and resolutions.