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Races in Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue district put incumbents against challengers; two other candidates are inactive.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Four candidates are seeking two seats on the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue board in May's special election.Two longtime incumbents have challengers for their seats on the board of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, which provides fire protection and emergency medical services to more than 500,000 people.

The TVF&R district extends from east Washington County into parts of Multnomah, Clackamas and Yamhill counties and covers 11 cities. It employs more than 400 firefighters at 26 stations.

The election is May 21. Mail ballots must be in the hands of elections officials by 8 p.m. May 21.

Although all four active candidates praise the performance of the district, which stretches over 390 square miles, there are differences.

For Position 4, it's Randy Lauer, a two-term board member who is regional director for American Medical Response, which provides ambulance services, against Robert Satterwhite, who spent 37 years as a firefighter and paramedic (17 years at TVF&R) before he retired in 2015.

Satterwhite sat briefly on the board of Washington County Fire District No. 2, which served North Plains, before it consolidated with TVF&R in 2017.

For Position 5, it's Brian Clopton, a five-term board member who owns an excavation company, against Justin Dillingham, who owns a small business and formerly was an executive with Life Flight Network.

Two others are on the ballot for Position 4.

But Kevin Van Dyke, who sits on the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District board, said he filed after he heard Clopton would not seek another term.

"I admire the job he does as board member and would not dream of trying to replace him," he said. "Since Brian decided to run for re-election I am not actively pursuing the position."

Jason Hitzert, on the other hand, believes the TVF&R board needs new leadership even though he is not pursuing his own candidacy.

"I originally decided to run because the incumbent, Brian Clopton, doesn't have what I think is the best background for overseeing the budget of a fire safety agency," Hitzert said. "Justin Dillingham was someone who had an impressive background and I decided to support him."

He also questions the employment by American Medical Response of incumbent Lauer.

"I'm hoping (the challengers) will prevail and give us a little bit more confidence in the elected leadership at TVF&R," he said.

Listed below are the active andidates by position, incumbents first, and brief statements in italics.

Position 4

Randy LauerRandy Lauer, 61, is regional director for American Medical Response, which provides ambulance services. He has been on the TVF&R board since 2011.

For eight years, I've had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer director on TVF&R's board. In that time, we've worked to hold the tax rate as low as possible for taxpayers without sacrificing service.

As a career paramedic and 32-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard, I draw from my experience as a first responder to prioritize the needs of my neighbors as it relates to emergency management services. From leading disaster teams to places like Hurricane Katrina and into wildland forest fires, to responding to elderly patients in their homes, I apply my experience to my decision-making as a TVF&R board member.

In my time at TVF&R, we've successfully integrated three small fire districts into our service district, including Newberg City and Newberg Rural Fire, which was successfully referred and overwhelmingly passed by voters.

I've been proud to be part of a team that's established a collaboration of relationships revolving around emergency services, specifically ambulance services. The integration of ambulance services into TVF&R as part of our emergency services was something we incorporated since I've joined the board.

We're focused on reinvesting in safety, training and fire equipment, ensuring first responders can do their work safely. Yet we've also won awards for successfully managing our taxpayer-funded budget. Most recently, I've been helping to manage the succession plan of our new fire chief and our chief financial officers.

I'm honored to be endorsed by leaders like former Washington County Commissioner Andy Duyck; Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West, and State Representative Mark Meek, as well as Teamsters Local 223.

In this next term, I'll focus on our promise to build a new rural fire station in Newberg, and make sure that we continue to provide high-quality services throughout the district at a price taxpayers can afford. I'd appreciate your vote!

Robert SatterwhiteRobert Satterwhite, 61, is a retired firefighter and paramedic, including 17 years at TVF&R until 2015. He was on the board of Washington County Fire District No. 2, which consolidated with TVF&R in 2017.

I am running for the TVF&R Board of Directors Position 4 because I believe my 37 years in public safety and emergency services gives me an excellent view and a "boots on the streets" look at how a progressive, forward thinking and efficient service oriented organization like TVF&R works.

All of the years responding to 911 calls and helping people through some of the most difficult experiences of their lives has defined who I am. I have been profoundly shaped and humbled by that service. I believe it has instilled in me compassion, common sense and a clear perspective. This gives me a strong vision of what emergency services are all about.

I also had the honor of working with the members of the Washington County Fire District No. 2 Board of Directors as director, Position 5. We worked with TVF&R to form a functional partnership first, then joined the TVF&R family after it became obvious they represented a great future for the public served by WCFD.

I feel TVF&R is a great organization. I want to help to make it even better. The men and women of the fire district represent the very best of public safety and emergency service providers. Each of them goes out of their way to treat the public they serve as if they were a personal family member. This is why I would appreciate the honor of serving on the board of directors of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.

Position 5

Brian CloptonBrian Clopton, 62, is the owner of his excavation company. He was first elected to the TVF&R board in 1999.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my sentiments with voters in TVF&R's service area. I have been honored to serve on TVF&R's Board of Directors for more than two decades. During my tenure as an elected leader for the Fire District, I have championed smart financial management, excellent customer service and high-quality emergency response.

I feel conservative fiscal management is a key priority because I know that many of the people living in our district have a fixed income or limited resources. I've had to make tough decisions to keep my own business afloat during recessions. Our board has provided guidance to ensure that all our fire station and facility construction projects are diligently planned and completed.

I am so proud of TVF&R's firefighters and staff because of their professionalism and commitment to the people we serve. I know we can count on them to provide the best care possible on someone's worst day. I'm hopeful the voters will allow me to continue working on their behalf.

Justin DillinghamJustin Dillingham, 40, owns his own business and is an emergency medical services consultant. He was formerly with Life Flight Network, where he was chief operating officer and chief customer officer.

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue has done an exceptional job fulfilling its mission. The district is a role model for other fire districts and sets the bar high as an industry leader. It will be an honor to serve the citizens of the district if elected to the board.

There are many examples of the successes of TVF&R. I have worked alongside some of the employees and volunteers during my time as a paramedic on the ground and in the air. They are among the best, which is not an accident. I have seen the great work they do and have first-hand knowledge of some of the lives and property saved.

I will bring value to the organization through my education and experience. Beyond a graduate degree in public administration, I have managerial experience as a chief level officer, and as a small business owner. I appreciate the successes of the district on the business side of the operation as well. The district has grown considerably, which is a testament to its leaders, and the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the organization.

As a resident in the district, I feel this is a way to give back to the community. If elected, I will help support TVF&R so it can continue its success by providing superior lifesaving services.

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