For the first time in recent memory, a contested election will determine who sits on the board of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.
Four of the candidates – two incumbents and two challengers – attended an informal candidate forum this week at the Bayfield Lions Club attended by about two dozen people. The candidates agreed on several issues, including the need to increase employee pay and focus on long-range financial planning.
In 2013, district voters narrowly approved a mill-levy increase to raise a total of $1.6 million to boost coffers after reduced gas and oil property-tax revenues hurt finances. In addition, the district didn’t replace employees who retired or quit, sold its ladder truck and used part of its reserves to stay afloat. All of the candidates said better long-term fiscal management is required.
The following is information the candidates submitted to the fire district or discussed at the forum:
Cook is a captain in Upper Pine, and he has volunteered there since 2002. A mechanic, he works for BP managing its fleet of trucks and previously owned his own garage. Having watched Upper Pine grow from mostly volunteers to a department of mostly paid staff, Cook said he has seen change in the department, and he wants to be a new voice on the board.
Faust, who was ill and did not attend the forum, is a rancher and pastor of Community of Christ Church. He was a member of the Bayfield School Board from 2004 to 2012 and has volunteered with the school district since 1981. He’s been a member and leader of Boy Scouts for 48 years.
An incumbent, Kourim is a U.S. Navy veteran who has worked for the Henderson and Clark County fire departments in Nevada as an engineer, captain and assistant chief. He also has worked for the Nevada Division of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service managing wildland fires. He is certified by the National Fire Academy as an incident management team leader. He has served on the Upper Pine board since 2008 when he was appointed to fill a seat.
Pennington, another incumbent, is running for his fourth term. He is a retired port of entry officer for the state of Colorado and now works for U.S. Airways. He is a snowmobiler who volunteers his time grooming area trails, and he has won several awards for his volunteerism from snowmobile organizations.
Walters has been president of Uni-Staff Services since 1995 and has worked in business administration and management since 1964. He has volunteered for Upper Pine since 2007, and he was voted “Volunteer of the Year” in January by the Colorado Department of Homeland Security’s Division of Emergency Management. He also is a coordinator for the state’s public health department.