For Spokane Valley Fire Board Commissioner Patrick Burch and challenger Stan Chalich, serving the community and ensuring the fire department’s financial longevity is a common goal.
Burch, 54, was appointed to the fire board of commissioners in July 2016. Burch has more than nine years of community service experience within the fire department. He served on the Community Emergency Response Team and was a team leader with the Fire Corps, a volunteer group that provides firefighter support services.
“I liked being a part of the Fire Corps and I want to do more,” he said. “With my business background and experience from Boeing as financial controller, I can be an asset to what (the department is) doing. I want to make sure we continue to provide services and keep fiscal responsibility at the forefront.”
Burch is the co-owner and business manager of Neurotherapy Northwest, a Spokane Valley-based mental health clinic.
Burch said another driving force in running is his son, Mitch, 12, who is a “firefighter to be.”
“I want a department that, when he’s of age, it would work for him,” he said. “People are standing in line to get the opportunity to be a part of it. It’s great for our community and children.”
Chalich, 73, also wants to continuously improve the Spokane Valley community and that’s why the Spokane Valley Firefighters Union Local 876 approached him to run for the fire board of commissioners, he said.
Chalich retired in June as a Central Valley High School social studies teacher after more than 49 years. He coached several Central Valley High sports teams and founded a junior statesman program that took students to Washington, D.C., to meet civic leaders.
Additionally, he’s been involved in several community groups, including the Liberty Lake Property Owners Association, and with watershed planning and development of trails.
If elected, Chalich wants to bring a fresh perspective to the fire board.
“Change is always good. You just want to have accountability and that’s through communication,” he said. “I believe in communication and openness. Compromise is an art, especially in democracy.”
Chalich, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, aims to focus on the department’s future financial plans while ensuring the safety of citizens.
“I’m going to have a lot of questions,” he said. “I’m not a rubber stamp. If something comes across, I don’t just stamp it and say ‘It’s OK.’ You have to sell me on it.”
Chalich said he’s also concerned about the working conditions of the firefighters.
“They have the boots on the ground, and morale has to be good,” he said.
Although Burch said he has a lot of respect for Chalich, Burch said his business and financial backgrounds make him better positioned for the fire board commissioner seat.
“This is a different avenue. I have more understanding of things financially and the work of the department,” he said. “I want to represent the fire department to maintain services and fiscal responsibility with the board that we have.”
Burch said devising a plan for the financial future of the department is a priority and encourages input from firefighters.
“Involvement at all levels is important,” he said. “We want to try and get as much input as we can, so we can take all aspects into account and make decisions on good data and information.”
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