Candidates vie for Vail Valley fire board seats
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The Eagle River Fire Protection District is holding an election for two seats on its five-member board of directors Tuesday.
The district includes six fire stations that serve Avon, Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Cordillera, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Minturn, Red Cliff and Wolcott.
There are two candidates in each race. In District 2, which includes Red Cliff, Minturn and parts of Avon, the candidates are Jeff Boock and incumbent Michael Gallagher.
In District 4, which includes the Edwards area, the candidates are Al Bosworth and incumbent John McCaulley.
Boock, of Minturn, worked for the district as a firefighter for five years, from 2002 to 2007. Boock has spent the last couple years commuting between here and Denver, but he is now back in the valley full-time.
“Now that I’m back in the Vail Valley full-time, I want to become more involved in the greater scheme of things. I think the Eagle River Fire board is a place for me to use some knowledge that I have to help mold that organization, which I think is a really good one, and can become an even better one,” Boock said.
Boock said he thinks the current board has been doing a good job, but change isn’t always a bad thing. He said he would deal with potential shortfalls from the anticipated decrease in property taxes by prioritizing services over facilities and “rolling stock,” such as fire trucks.
He also said he wants to keep current staffing levels where they are and not try to take on additional challenges for now, such as a new station in Wolcott.
Boock currently works for the Vail Valley Medical Center.
Gallagher, of Minturn, has a long history of public service in the valley, serving as police chief, fire chief, mayor and councilman in Minturn as well as county commissioner. He has lived in the valley for 36 years.
Gallagher has served on the fire district board for a little more than four years.
“I want to continue with what we have been able to start,” Gallagher said. “The big thing that I see coming that we have to concern ourselves with is the economy. … The value of property is going down. We anticipate our revenue is going to go down. We have to be able to survive that to come out of it still providing the kind of protection that folks here need.”
Gallagher said he is proud of the way the board has straightened out its finances, improving pay for firefighters and replacing aging equipment. He also noted that the district has been working for the last year on getting itself accredited on a national level.
“We want to see that completed,” Gallagher said.
Bosworth, of Edwards, is an engineer with the Vail Fire Department and also owns a real estate and property management company. He has been a firefighter for 30 years.
He said his top priority is addressing the financial situation of the district in light of expected decreases in revenues.
“At this point, I’m not sure what the financial situation of the district is, but my first priority would be to stabilize the solubility and make sure whatever is done would not or minimally impact the taxpayer that the district serves,” Bosworth said.
As the president of his homeowners association for over a decade, Bosworth has dealt with county commissioners and county staff, he said. He also pointed to his experience as a business owner.
“I think I have a good business acumen and I’m aware of how finances need to be run,” he said.
He also noted his experience as a firefighter and as a homeowner in the district.
“All those things qualify me to help out on the board,” he said.
McCaulley, of Edwards, retired from the Eagle River Fire Protection District as deputy chief in 2005 after 25 years with the department. He currently works for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. He has served on the fire district board for four years.
He said the board’s biggest accomplishment over his last term has been working toward getting the district nationally accredited, something that only two other departments in Colorado have.
He has been working with the board on getting started on reducing costs. The district is taking a “bottom up” approach to cutting costs, asking firefighters to look at ways of reducing expenses, he said.
McCaulley said one of his biggest goals is to create a long-term strategic plan that includes a secession plan for aging firefighters as well as a road map for improving aging infrastructure, such as the stations in Eagle-Vail and Edwards.
Capital projects are being delayed until the economy starts to recover, but it is important that the district works on plans for such projects in the event that funding becomes available, perhaps from federal sources, McCaulley said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.