Tim Lussier has challenged incumbent John Bresko for Position 3 on the Estacada Rural Fire District Board of Directors in the May 21 election.
Bresko became a volunteer firefighter in 1962 and was elected to the board of directors in 1982. He previously owned Estacada Oil. Lussier has 15 years of experience in political campaigns and managed digital marketing for the western swing states during Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and was involved with field work for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
The Estacada News spoke to both candidates about the issues facing the fire district, the feasibility study with Clackamas Fire and several other topics. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Estacada News: Why are you running for fire board?
John Bresko: My job is not done yet. I ran last time
and wanted to see a new fire station, but the voters voted it down. So we did the seismic grant, which did the same thing as a new station would have. We now have sleeping quarters for individual people. The next thing is to get a (separate) bathroom and shower made for women firefighters.
Tim Lussier: I felt like it was the right time to step up and serve at the next level. It's time for citizen servants to step forward and fight for Oregon's real values. . .in this uncivil time, when people fight on Facebook and governments fight each other, it's a small step for me to serve in a humble position.
EN: What are some of the most pressing issues for the fire district?
Bresko: Getting the (fire station) building up and running is what we really need. We recently found out that we need to redo the kitchen. Between the bathroom and the kitchen, those are most important. And we need to keep morale up. It's outstanding today.
Lussier: The issues are similar to most issues faced in rural Clackamas County — transportation, jobs and the economy, and fiscal concerns. Limited, accountable government is very important. This position is extremely important. Fire season last year was worse than the year before that. We need to protect people and taxpayer money, and fight for what the citizens want.
EN: What are your thoughts on the feasibility study with Clackamas Fire? Would you support integration if the study called for it? Why or why not?
Bresko: No comment. We have nothing in writing yet back from the feasibility study.
Lussier: In a lot of government agencies, they have institutional overhead and bureaucracy. All of these planners are paid to plan. I'm not skeptical of science — studies are fine. Local control is important, especially in our district. I would be curious to read the report once it's finished. If the study looks at predetermined outcomes, it may not be a good study.
EN: What are the district's strengths, and can you identify an area where the district could improve?
Bresko: Our strength is getting out of the building in a timely manner. We're averaging about three minutes to get out on a call, which is good.
We've had our ups and downs. All departments have that same thing happen. The board's responsibility is the finances of the fire department. That is the main thing the board has got to focus on, and not micromanaging the fire department.
Lussier: Through many years, the fire department has served people. They're consistently serving people on the front lines. They go above and beyond. The story about the cat in the tree is true. They're quiet heroes.
Around improvements, the (feasibility) study will be interesting to see. I'm always interested in an outside perspective, but it should always provide feedback about what needs to be done.
EN: How can the board support the district in providing the most effective service to the community?
Bresko: Right now, getting out (to calls) could improve by hiring four more people. . .for a timely manner getting out of the fire department.
Lussier: A board member's role is to be an ombudsman, and ensure that we're not doing anything outside of best practices. . .If I'm on the board, I will work with firefighters to get what staff needs because they are on the frontline. It's not fair to them to not have the best practices for what they need.
EN: What is something else you want voters to know about you?
Bresko: I'm calm and easy going. Some things rattle me, but not very often. I do not have any agenda.
Lussier: This is a new era for Oregon that faces greater issues of politicians not serving taxpayers and districts. If I'm able to, I will be a fierce advocate for Oregon's values and traditions. I'm trying to convert that vision from words to action and (facilitate) a more prosperous and sustainable Oregon.
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