New faces on Nevada County fire district boards
and Liz Kellar
One incumbent lost his seat and two incumbents were re-elected in the race for the four open seats on the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District board of directors Tuesday.
Tom Carrington, a retired sheriff’s captain and a newcomer to the board, garnered 4,303 votes or 19 percent — more than any other candidate, according to preliminary figures released by the Nevada County Elections Office late Tuesday.
Newcomer William Habblett and incumbent Warren Knox were neck and neck with Habblett taking 3,572 votes or 15.87 percent and Knox taking 3,603 votes or 16.01 percent.
Incumbent Robert Rhodes took the last seat with 2,943 votes or 13 percent — narrowly edging out challengers Linda Chaplin and Ronald Pennington, who both had approximately 12 percent of the votes.
John Leonard was the sole incumbent who lost his seat, having received 11 percent of the votes.
The new board faces a district that was recently rocked by internal strife after former chief Tim Fike stepped down amid allegations of employee abuse. Fike had been involved in a physical altercation in March with fire mechanic Kevin Greene, which led to an investigation. A number of the candidates pledged to improve working relationships within the district.
The district also has had budgetary issues that pushed administrators to pursue an ultimately successful sales tax increase. All the candidates saw continuing budget issues as a top priority.
Incumbents Knox and Rhodes both pointed to the consolidation of responsibilities as a much-needed solution as the district looks to outline plans with Grass Valley and Nevada City fire departments on further cooperations and shared administrative services.
Higgins Area Fire Protection District
While incumbent Dan Fitzgerald retained his seat with 35 percent of the votes, challenger Alex Crawford, who garnered 42 percent of the vote, will join the board of directors for the Higgins Area Fire Protection District.
Crawford bested challenger Chet Krage, who garnered 22 percent in the race for two open seats.
Budgetary issues also are a top concern for the candidates, they said in previous interviews with The Union.
The Higgins fire protection district has been struggling financially after a tax measure that would have provided additional revenue was voted down by district residents during the June primary election.
Measure B, which would have raised the annual assessment on property owners within the district by $100, garnered 61 percent approval from voters when 66.7 percent was needed for the measure to succeed.
The failure of the measure has had a significant impact on department operations. Since July, the district has closed one station and laid off four or five staff members; another impact has been longer response times.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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