Silverton Rural Fire District: Meet the candidates

May 2019 Posted in Community

By Brenna Wiegand

Four people vie for two positions on the Silverton Rural Fire Protection District Board of Directors in the May 21 Election. Stacy Palmer and Tara Von Flue are competing for Position 1, and incumbent Warren (Rick) Jackson runs against Robert Mengucci for Position 5. The new board members will serve four-year terms that commence July 1, 2019.

As a special-purpose rural district, Silverton is composed of five stations in Silverton, Scotts Mills, Victor Point, North Abiqua and the Crooked Finger area. In addition to six paid staff at the main station, the district is fueled by 68 volunteers.

The five-member fire district board is responsible for setting policies and hiring a fire chief to implement them. Other responsibilities include reviewing and paying bills, issuing paychecks, implementing projects and working with five at-large budget committee members to create the annual budget.

Here, candidates address issues having to do with the Silverton Rural Fire Protection District. Some answers may be edited for space; find the candidates’ complete responses at www.ourtownlive.com.

What is your occupation?

Palmer: I’ve been the Executive Director of the Silverton Chamber and Visitor Center for 18 years.

Von Flue: I work for the City of Mount Angel as a Management Analyst, in the Finance Department.

Jackson: Retired troubleshooter for Contel Telephone Co.

Mengucci: 19-year professional firefighter/paramedic/engineer with an educational background in fire suppression, fire prevention and paramedicine.

Why are you running?

Palmer: I was asked! For those who know me, they know that I try to help out where I can and I think it’s time for a fresh perspective on the board. I also think as more women enter the fire profession, it’s time to see a representation of that on the board as well.

Von Flue: I was told by a current board member that there was an opening and that there were no candidates registered with two days left before the deadline. I decided to apply because I believe that this board position would allow me to connect more with the citizens of Silverton, and to give back to the community in which I live.

Jackson: I am very interested in fire protection and have the greatest respect for our volunteer firefighters.

Mengucci: I previously volunteered for Silverton Fire for nine years, and have always wanted to volunteer in a different capacity. The time is right for change and improved safety for Silverton. My goal is to make things better for Silverton staff, volunteers and the community they protect.

What is the biggest challenge facing the district right now and what do you propose to help deal with it?

Palmer: After talking to numerous members of the Silverton Fire Department family, I’ve come to the conclusion that communication and accountability are needed. Clear communication fosters trust, understanding and engagement. Lack of it can breed unhappiness, and divisiveness. If everyone rows the boat the same way, you get much further!

Von Flue: The Silverton Fire District’s current problems and challenges are unknown to me. This could be seen as a drawback because I have not been involved in any part, nor did I do any research prior to applying. I choose to see it as an asset, in that I come, with no assumptions, biases, or presumptions on what items I need to accomplish. Rather I can be objective and hear the issues with a fresh perspective and be a collaborator on moving forward.

Jackson: We have met many challenges in the past and succeeded and expect to meet any new ones. One is that Silverton is building out South Water so fast. The developer Larry Epping donated two acres to put a fire hall out there, but getting the monies to do it is a problem.

Mengucci: Response times are too long. Management and its members have a disconnect reflecting an alarmingly low number of volunteers. Volunteer retention and the need for more volunteers is my priority. I would strive to repair these issues and make Silverton Fire a department everyone can be proud of.

What skills, experience or insight makes you the best qualified to guide the district?

Palmer: With over 25 years of management and board experience, my awareness and training in board policy, budgeting, procedures and dynamics would be helpful. I’m open-minded and will need to listen to the needs of the department from all sides. I’ll be accountable for the decisions I make and willing to share the reasons behind those decisions.

Von Flue: I believe I am analytical, a quick study, honest and ethical. I have worked for city government for the last 5 years. The most current role has been in finance, human resources, and budgeting capacity. I have made presentations to a budget committee and city council, an integral part of the city’s budget preparation, and witnessed several volunteer board meetings (City Council, Budget Committee, and Infrastructure Task Force).

Jackson: I have served as a volunteer firefighter and on many boards, including seven years on the Scotts Mills School Board, nine years with the Silverton High School Budget Committee, 16 years on the Silverton Fire District Board and the executive board for my union for a number of years.

Mengucci: I am a former Silverton volunteer. I have more than 28 years in public service and 24 years in fire service, as well as AAS degrees in Fire Suppression and Paramedicine, and education in Fire Prevention.

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