News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Fire board candidates differ on levy

All four board candidates for Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District know about firefighting. Both incumbents have served as volunteer firefighters for the District, as has the challenger for Position 5, who has volunteered since 2009. The other challenger’s husband was a volunteer for the Woodburn Fire District and her two sons are career/volunteer firefighters.

The District has candidates who can bring directly applicable service to the five-member board.

Deanne Dement is the incumbent seeking her second term. She is supportive of the five-year levy voters will be asked to approve that adds $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value to the current $1.50/$1,000. Dement has lived in the District for 30 years and has been associated with the RFD for more than 20, serving as a firefighter, budget committee member and board member. She sees challenges facing the District from steady population growth and land-use mix.

Dement is challenged by Michelle (Mikee) Stutzman, a ministry coordinator. Her service to the District includes working on fundraising events, meal provision during fire emergencies, and dinners for association meetings. Stutzman expresses concern for the levy. She sees her contributions to the board as a facilitator, describing herself as a rule-follower.

Position 5

Cindy Kettering, the incumbent, is running for her third four-year term. She also is Deputy Fire Marshal for Bend Fire & Rescue, a position she has held since 2004. Her background includes volunteer positions in firefighting and as an EMT with agencies in the Willamette Valley and Mt. Hood. Her resumé includes an associate’s degree in fire science and prevention in addition to her bachelor’s degree in public management.

She is challenged by Marcus Peck, a volunteer fireman for over 45 years, 13 with the Cloverdale District. He has a degree in business management with a minor in farm management. Peck has enough reservations about the levy to oppose it. He also sees little to no value from the levy to the District’s north end that includes Aspen Lakes, benefiting mostly the southern side.

None of the four candidates is prepared to predict the outcome of the election for either the levy or their candidacies. Because the 3,500 persons in the District are geographically dispersed, there is no door-to-door canvassing for votes. The COVID-19 environment has further reduced traditional campaign tactics. The Voters Pamphlet for the levy carries nine “Arguments” in its pages, four in opposition and five in favor of its passage.

All four candidates acknowledge that the most active voices on social media and word of mouth are generally in opposition but there is no polling to gauge sentiment accurately. Stutzman does not believe that the levy was brought to the ballot with adequate transparency or community engagement. Peck argues that it was rushed, kept somewhat in secrecy, and is poorly worded.

Both incumbents support the levy based on what they perceive as need. All four candidates were asked directly: why not just merge the District with the larger Sisters-Camp Sherman District. To varying degrees all four admitted to the emotional pride of having Cloverdale have its own fire department. More than one candidate sees the possibility of a merger as a likely progression in the coming years.


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