Honesty between administration and the firefighters union, maintaining current direction and responsible spending were among the issues stressed by Spokane Valley Fire District commissioner candidates.
Two positions on the five-member board will be up for grabs when voters enter the booths on Nov. 7. James Fox faces off against incumbent Ronald Schmidt in the race for commissioner position 1.
Lynn Schindler will try to unseat current board chairman Harry Larned as commissioner position 2. All four candidates are seeking six-year terms.
While Fox also has previous experience as a fire commissioner, winning a seat on the board would be a first for Schindler.
“Obviously being new I am going to face things I have never seen before so I have to do a lot of studying,” she said. “I’m not afraid of studying.”
Challenges the fire commissioners will face include renegotiating the union’s contract, building a new fire station in Liberty Lake and hammering out the district’s $9 million annual budget.
An open line of communication between the union and administration is vital to running an efficient fire district, said Fox, who served as a Valley Fire commissioners for three years beginning in 1987.
It will also be important when the district negotiates a new union contract in 1997.
“I feel like we have to be honest and let everybody know where we stand,” Fox said.
Board members will also be handed the task of building a new fire station in Liberty Lake. Construction tentatively is scheduled to begin late in 1996.
“I’m not in favor of tax increases,” Fox said. “I feel we need to work within the budget we have.”
Schindler agreed and vowed to be critical of the way the district’s money is spent.
“Some new questions need to be asked,” Schindler said. “This is a time when people are looking at taxes. I would like to make sure there’s a balance between the firemen’s needs and the taxpayer’s pocket book.”
Larned, who is finishing his ninth year on the commission, likes the direction the board and department have taken.
He said the district’s money has been well spent and has made the district one of the state’s best.
“They’re put into a difficult position and the guy who says they are overpaid has never been a firefighter,” Larned said.
“It would be nice if they worked for 25 cents a day, but I’m afraid that’s the kind of service we’d get.”
Valley Fire’s emphasis on educating its firefighters has been responsible for maintaining their abilities, Schmidt added. He wants to see training continue to be a priority.
“The better you know your job, the easier it is to do,” Schmidt said. “When you are on a job like that, (your actions) have to be natural.”
Knowing the negotiation of a new union contract looms in the future, all agreed that give and take was necessary to ensure that the district offers the best medics and firefighters and is also the most cost effective.
“That’s the bottom line - taking care of the district,” Schmidt said.
, DataTimes MEMO: See individual profiles by name of candidate.