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Oregon Public Employees Retirement System keeps things interesting for Clackamas Fire Board hopefuls

During an April 26 debate at Willamette View, four candidates for the Clackamas Fire Board's Position 4 display their opposing views

During an April 26 debate at Willamette View, four candidates for the Clackamas Fire Board's Position 4 displayed their opposing views when it came to how to deal with Oregon's Public Employees Retirement System.

PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Willamette View resident Jeanne Magmer introduces the candidates for the Clackamas Fire Board at an April 26 debate.Increasing PERS costs will be a huge burden on future Clackamas Fire budgets, said fire-board candidate Steve Bates, an active Boring resident who's the CEO of Oregon Fire Equipment and a sales representative for Western Fire Equipment.

"You've got to put money in the bank and keep money in the bank to pay for PERS," Bates said.

Gresham Fire & Emergency Services Capt. Jay Cross said "don't buy into a lot of the scare tactics that are going into PERS." Cross said that Clackamas Fire is doing a good job anticipating who's retiring and projecting how much their retirement benefits will cost.

Former Happy Valley City Councilor Michael Morrow, who works for Lions VisionGift, a local nonprofit cornea transplantation agency, disagreed with the assessment provided by Cross.

"Everyone needs to tighten their belts," Morrow said.

Terry John Gibson, a former president of the Oak Lodge Sanitary District Board and member of the McLoughlin Area Plan lmplementaton Team, was sick April 26 and was represented by his wife at the Willamette View candidates forum. She said that her husband is less concerned about PERS and more concerned about investing in infrastructure that would help the community respond during disasters.

In the fire board's position 2, incumbent Don Trotter earned the endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Clackamas County's Local 1159, an honor he shares with Cross. Trotter recently moved to Willamette View in Oak Grove from his home in Milwaukie.

Trotter promised to continue to help Clackamas Fire "find ways to stretch the budget to meet the needs."

Trotter said that Clackamas Fire is considering a lease with Clackamas Community College for the construction of a new fire administration building. An intergovernmental agreement signed with the Estacada Fire District in March is allowing the volunteer-run Eagle Creek fire station to be staffed 40 hours a week for the first time.

Trotter's opponent, Chris Hawes, supported the move with Estacada, saying that it seemed like the move with the Boring Fire District before it recently was consolidated within Clackamas Fire.

"Estacada may be going the way of Boring, hopefully soon," Hawes said.

Hawes said he thought Trotter should have an opponent after being appointed 10 years ago and always running unopposed. Hawes said that his successful campaign to dissolve the city of Damascus, a type of action that hadn't been achieved in Oregon for 60 years, shows that he has the passion to help Clackamas Fire meet challenges.