Six candidates are running for three open seats on the Cortez Fire Protection District board on May 8.
The two incumbents are Sherri Wright and Buck Woodman. The other candidates are Jim Bridgewater, Bradley Lynn Ray, Jan Nelson and Les Rogers. Bridgewater, a previous board member, last served in 2014.
Board secretary and treasurer Kent Lindsay is term-limited and cannot run again. He has served for eight years.
The Cortez Fire Protection District is a special Colorado district and is governed by an elected board of directors. Elections are held every other year, following the first Monday in May.
The election will be held at the Montezuma County Annex, at 107 N. Chestnut St., on May 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All but one of the six candidates answered questions emailed to them by The Journal. Following are their answers, which have been edited for punctuation, style and usage.
James BridgewaterWhy have you decided to run?My experiences on the Cortez Fire Protection District Board from 2006-2014 were with very proactive board members. Those directors and I started planning and setting aside funds to build a fire station, buy trucks and necessary safety equipment. We also took recommendations and began to put in place a paid fire department due to an increasing call volume. All these acquisitions were partially funded through grants, and these procedures continue today. As a result of these past actions, this community is now safer and better protected. I am proud of my involvement and accomplishments with those board members. With that in mind, I am looking forward to being involved now to help the District continue on this path and move forward to better serve this community.
What would be your main objective as a board member?At this point in time I am most interested in establishing a proper working budget that would allow the district to continue to purchase equipment, trucks and safety gear in a logical and necessary manner. I would encourage, and like to see the district apply for any available grants to assist in helping to offset these costs. In the past, this was of great value to the fire department and instrumental in allowing the district to move forward.
Jan NelsonWhy have you decided to run?I decided to run because I am a big proponent of special districts. I worked for a special district in Arizona for 15 years and for the Cortez Sanitation District for one year. I’ve also been a board member for the Arizona and Colorado Rural Water/Wastewater associations. I feel I can make a positive difference for the fire district. I’ve seen our firefighters in action and have spoken with several of them. They are a very dedicated group of men and women. I’d like to help them continue to have a positive impact on our community.
What would be your main objective as a board member?My main objective will be to ensure that our firefighters have the tools they need to protect our community and to go home safely after every call.
Bradley RayWhy have you decided to run?I have a prior background with the fire department. I come from a volunteer fire department. I just feel like it is time to do something. I want to help with better protection. Due to having a background in the fire district, I understand what they need. I think it would benefit them if I could sit in one of those seats and help them out.
What would be your main objective as a board member?Honestly, just to keep them up-to-date on equipment and training. My goal is that they need a decent wage. They are making pennies, and we are going to train guys to basically be a step to another department. I would rather train them to stay.
Les RogersWhy have you decided to run?I had been considering some type of involvement with the fire community when I was asked to run for the board by several people who believed that my background and experience would be useful. So, it didn’t take me long to decide, and my decision has been affirmed by recent events.
What would be your main objective as a board member?I have a passion for safety, training and equipment for the most important firefighting assets we have – our irreplaceable people who place their lives in danger every day serving this community! I believe my experience as a former volunteer fire department chief (albeit in a small department), my experience as a certified public accountant, my experience in management and my experience with people can assist the board in providing better equipment and training for our firefighters, better financial management in planning and budgeting, better personnel retention and management, and better community support and involvement. I will be proactive, informed and involved, not reactive!
Buck WoodmanWhy have you decided to run?I am running for re-election to help my community, friends and family. My family is a part of this community, and I have had several friends on the fire department over the years, and I want the fire department to be a well-run, good department. I do not know every aspect of fire safety, but I believe the board is more of an oversight committee to make sure the fire department budget and long-term goals are handled correctly.
What would be your main objective as a board member?My current goal is to help with the testing and selection process of a new chief for the Cortez fire department. This will hopefully be in the works prior to or during the election. After a new chief is hired, my main goal will be to get them up-to-date on the current budget and the construction of the new fire department that should be done this summer. Once this is done, my main goal as a board member will be to help the chief by being there to support him in the running of his department.
Sherri WrightWhy have you decided to run?We are right in the middle of a new building, I want to make sure that our budget stays solid, and I am very proud that we haven’t had to go to the community for money. I just want to make sure that we stay within our budget so we can see this finished. I also want to work on a new fire chief. I want to see the department succeed.
What would be your main objective as a board member?My main objective is the finances – that we stay within budget, that we stay where we need to be. I am always the one that brings up questions with finances. Finances are very important to me because if we don’t have solid finances, we have nothing. I am passionate about our community and seeing that it grows and keeps a positive influence. If we have an outstanding fire department, people will be more likely to come in. The community will grow because as long as you have public services, the community will grow.