Russell Weisfield — Candidate for the Arvada Fire Protection District Board
1. Why are you running for the fire board?
Currently there exists difficulty in obtaining information regarding the activities of the Fire District. As highlighted on my website, www.RussellForFireBoard.com, I am a strong proponent of open government. I am therefore interested in ensuring the creation of podcasts, the availability of hard to find documents, and the distribution of pertinent information to the community. Furthermore, I held and continue to hold concerns about why the election regarding the mill levy increase was done through a private company at a cost in excess of running it through the county and resulted in a turnout that was less than the turnout for the election held by the county. This concern was intensified when the board asked for an elimination to term limits which was rightly and soundly defeated by the voters.
2. What skills do you bring that will help you govern the Arvada Fire District effectively?
I have been a staunch advocate of Open Government. I have shown my knowledge of the issue as well as my tenaciousness for seeing that government remains transparent through my numerous CORA requests and efforts to see that votes by public officials are not made in secret. Furthermore, My knowledge of transportation issues and technologies, such as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), will be important should the city or district change its boundaries.
3. What are the biggest challenges you see facing the Arvada Fire District?
1) Maintaining top ISO ratings and accreditation throughout the district
2) Adjusting to changes in boundaries that may include less of Wheat Ridge and more of Arvada (e.g. in Adams County)
3) Preparing for the impact of the Gold Line completion and associated Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
4. How does the configuration of Ralston Road impact the level of service that the Arvada Fire District can provide?
When addressing the configuration of Ralston Road one must look at how the train tracks will impact service. This highlights an issue that has been bothersome for District residents who live in Wheat Ridge. While many years ago Clear Creek made sense as a line of division for the district, a more obvious current line of division is I-70. This is not to say that the AFPD has poorly treated citizens south of I-70 but rather, that the realities of the current traffic configurations need to be addressed.
Furthermore, the impact on Ralston Road of the new Wal-Mart must also be addressed. Analysis of the impact of such stores upon the local neighborhood has generally shown that there are more calls to the surrounding neighborhoods following the opening of such stores. The AFPD will have to prepare for this anticipated increase and work with the city to ensure that emergency vehicles can get where they need to get in a timely manner.
5. Do you think that the benefits to the community out weighs the costs of having our own ambulance service.
If so please explain the trade-off between the added cost and new services being provided.
If not how will you approach liquidating the Ambulances that were purchased and reducing the Arvada Fire District staff?
The issue of the AFPD having its own ambulance service highlights the need to have more information available to the public on the AFPD website. The anecdotal evidence for the positives of this change have been mentioned by various members of the AFPD including Chief Mitchell in an open meeting. These comments should be readily available to the public through a podcast on the District’s website. To explain the trade-off between the costs and services, however, one would have to examine the empirical evidence that resulted in this decision.
That information should also be available on the AFPD website. With this empirical evidence along with the anecdotal evidence that could be provided through things such as a podcast, then it is possible for citizens to arrive at a reasoned conclusion. Without this information readily available, however, citizens cannot do that.
6. Did you support the last ballot measure that would have removed term limits for Arvada Fire Board Members?
Given the fact that there are currently ten people running for the Board, the board’s reasoning for eliminating term limits was clearly disproven and my opposition clearly justified. It is understandable that the board thought this would be a solution to the problem of having so few candidates for the positions. Yet it appears, again given that ten people are running, that other steps could have been done to generate that interest. Perhaps the biggest problem with the measure, however, was that it would have been retroactive thereby enabling the entire current board to serve indefinitely. A better and more altruistic approach would have been to make it effective for successors.
7. Did you support the 55% mill-levy increase in 2010?
The mill-levy increase was excessive and I therefore did not support it. Not only was it the highest percentage increase to be put to voters of the area, but it requested $2,000,000.00 in preparation for the doomed Proposition 101 and related Constitutional Amendments. Despite the fact that proponents of the levy promised to roll back the $2,000,000.00 should the tax slashing measures be defeated (as they were), the full levy remains in place. With property values increasing, and therefore the District’s income increasing, it is time to re-assess that portion of the mill-levy.