LAKESIDE FIRE BOARD CANDIDATES RESPOND TO QUESTIONS

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By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2018 (Lakeside) – Five candidates are running for the Lakeside Fire Protection District Board.  Three are incumbents:   Robert Robeson, a retired Cal Fire assistant chief, Mike Haworth, a retired fire division chief, Peter Liebig, a retired firefighter/paramedic. Two are challengers:  fire captain Tim Robles and volunteer emergency responder Ron Kasper.

East County Magazine sent questionnaires to all five, and three responded (Robeson, Haworth and Kasper).   Below are their responses (published in the order received), plus links to their ballot statements.

ROBERT ROBESON

Robert Robeson, current board president for the Lakeside Fire Protection District, retired as a Cal Fire Assistant Chief in 1997 after 37 years of service.  View his ballot statement here.  Responses to our questions are below:

Why are you running for this office?

 

I want to continue working towards keeping Lakeside Fire Department one of the best fire departments in California. We currently have excellent, well trained firefighter / paramedics working in all of our positions in the department, including the chief officers. I want to keep it that way.

What are your most important qualifications or experience?

I was born into a family of firemen who lived in La Mesa and Spring Valley. During high school, at age 17, I began working for Cal Fire as a seasonal firefighter while attending high school and college. I retired with 37 years’ service, as an assistant chief with Cal Fire. I’ve been a Lakeside Fire Board member for the last 3 years and board president for the past 1 ½ years. I organized Eucalyptus Hills Fire Safe Council in 2009 and I sit on Eucalyptus Hills Landowners Association as a director. I also sit on Supervisor Diann. Jacob’s Lakeside Revitalization Committee, as a member of her Public Safety Committee. I sit on CSA#69 Paramedic Ambulance Service Committee as an advisory commissioner. I sit on the Advisory Commission for Heartland Training Facility. With this experience in governance, I believe I’m ready to re-fill my board position for another four years.

What do you consider the most important issues in the Lakeside Fire District, and how do you hope to address them?

Tax revenue is always an issue, especially when we’re replacing, repairing, re-modeling or building new stations, as we are currently doing, the previous directors have done an excellent job in keeping the budgets in the green, without raising fees and our audits reflect it. I’m going to continue keeping our programs moving in the right directions.

What are your priorities with regard to fire prevention, fire protection, firefighters’ needs and budgetary considerations?

My priorities have remained the same since i became a firefighter in 1960: “preventing fires”, saving lives and property has always been my ultimate goal as a firefighter and now as a director here. Our Lakeside firefighters provide the best life saving services available in the area which includes (paramedics in ambulances and on fire engines). They work in Lakeside Fire District to serve our residents and guests on a 24 hour a day basis. Our firefighters must be well trained and fully equipped with the latest equipment and they’re available to safely do their jobs, during every shift.

Who are your most important endorsements from?

Senator Joel Anderson, Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Past Assemblyman Brian Jones, John Butz, Lakeside School District Board Member, Kathy Kassel, Ceo / President of Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.

For incumbents, what do you consider your most important accomplishments on the board?

Sitting on our budget committee; Heartland Training Facility commissioner; CSA #69 commissioner and all are running smoothly, as they were when I first started with them. This means i haven’t messed anything up, so far.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you, your candidacy, or this race?

Not at this time.

MIKE HAWORTH

Mike Haworth, a director on the Lakeside Fire Protection District, has worked 31 years in fire service including as Division Chief for San Miguel Fire Protection District and La Mesa’s Fire Department.  View his ballot statement here.  View his responses to our questions below:

Why are you running for this office?

I’m running for re-election to continue the work that has been put in place since my election in November of 2014. As one of the current Directors on the Lakeside Fire Board I have been part of a very effective team. There have been many positive steps forward for Lakeside Fire in the last four years. This includes the relocation of Fire Station 1, after completing a comprehensive study to improve responses to emergencies, based on incident call volume and location. Our budget planning has seen an increase in reserve funds giving us a solid foundation for maintaining current services and for future planning. I look forward to continuing this work as a one of the Directors.

What are your most important qualifications or experience?

I served 31 years in local fire service here in East County. As a Fire Division Chief, I managed and administered multimillion-dollar budgets. I was responsible for daily operations and maintenance of fire stations and equipment. I oversaw emergency responses of firefighters and provided disaster planning and concept of operations for responses to major incidents and fires in our communities. This fire management experience along with my experience as a current Director for Lakeside Fire gives me a solid foundation and understanding of what it takes to provide quality fire protection services while being fiscally responsible.

What do you consider the most important issues in the Lakeside Fire District, and how do you hope to address them?

Lakeside Fire District’s paramedic program was the first paramedic ambulance service in San Diego County. Lakeside’s firefighter/paramedic ambulances provide the highest level of transport services in the County. It is vital as a Board that we continue to stay informed of any changes that may impact this service and make adjustments to ensure the citizens continue to receive the highest level of emergency medical service.

Our community is in an urban wildland environment that has experienced devasting wildland fires in the past and are susceptible to future fires. We must continue to plan and prepare our community. Programs like our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) which educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for major hazards or fires that may impact our community and trains them in basic response skills. Community education and preparedness with web-based resources like ReadySanDiego.org and SDCountyEmergency.com. Ensure our firefighters have the resources needed and that we continue to coordinate with other local, regional, and State resources to provide response and support needed during major wildland fire.

What are your priorities with regard to fire prevention, fire protection, firefighters’ needs, and budgetary considerations?

The men and women of Lakeside Fire are a highly motivated and professional group of employees who have great pride in the service they provide. It is important we continue to provide the tools, equipment, and training needed for them to perform their jobs. As a Director on the Board this will be accomplished by maintaining our current budget planning process, continuing the development of our strategic plan, and ensuring we maintain the right leadership to proactively lead our fire department in the future.

Who are your most important endorsements from?

I’m running as an independent who is not affiliated with any political party or special interests. My goal is to continue serving the citizens of lakeside by ensuring they have the best fire service possible. The most important endorsements I have are the current board members who have asked me to run for re-election and continue our work together.

For incumbents, what do you consider your most important accomplishments on the board?

The current Lakeside Fire Board is made up of five retired fire professionals. We have a variety of experience, knowledge, and expertise. The most important accomplishment for me over this past four years is our ability to work together dealing with complex and sometimes controversial issues. Our opinions and priorities vary which forces us to look at issues from all sides. The discussion and decision-making process is detailed and well thought out. I’m grateful to be part of a fire board that has a passion for their beliefs and the ability to professionally work together with the best interest of the Lakeside citizens, our community, and the firefighters that protect them in mind.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you, your candidacy, or this race?

I have lived in East County most of my life, I know how important fire protection and safety is to this community. Four years ago, I pledged to serve the citizens of Lakeside at the highest level of integrity and I look forward to continuing that service during the next four years. On November 6th, I appreciate your vote as a Director for the Lakeside Fire Protection District.

RON KASPER

Ron Kasper has volunteered for numerous nonprofit organizations ranging from the Red Cross to C.E.R.T. and has also worked as a law enforcement officer.  Kasper did not submit a ballot statement to the Registrar of Voters.  View his responses to our questions below:

Why are you running for this office?

It would be an honor to represent the approximate 62,000 residents and 45 square mile area that is my home of the Lakeside Fire Protection District.  I believe I have the motivation, time, background, and passion to ensure my community receives the best and fastest response time for emergency services for citizens and for our homes and businesses.  And, our firefighters shall have the state-of-the-art equipment and best training to accomplish our common goal of saving lives and structures.

The Board of Directors’ is a non-partisan and unpaid position. I believe that I would bring a life time of volunteering to our District. This is a four-year commitment and this commitment to public service was instilled in me at an early age by my parents as well as honesty, integrity, patience, patriotism, and compassion for all people to the person on the street to a triage situation where seconds count before paramedics arrive. My empathy for people has been well ingrained in me not just by my parents but also from training and actual hands on emergency events. I have had budget experience larger than the Lakeside Annual Budget, and as a volunteer also. My bilingual skills, English/Spanish has always helped with a growing Hispanic Population in Southern California.

What are your most important qualifications or experience?

I have volunteered my whole life for non-profit organizations from the San Diego American Red Cross Chapter, Emergency Worker, to currently C.E.R.T.-Community Emergency Responder, Civilian, assigned to the Lakeside Fire Protection District with on-going emergency training, County Parks and Recreation, Project Wildlife, and am active on emergency amateur radio. I also trained, gratis, 12 guide dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind of San Rafael, California.  I shall never forget the handing over ceremony of my finished dog the Saturday before 9/11.

The training I have received from the American Red Cross, LEO, and Lakeside Fire places me just below the rank of paramedic with triage as my specialization. I spent three and a half years in Colorado as a Law Enforcement Officer, also, LEO. My friends call me- “A boots on the ground kinda guy.” I smile to their words.

What are your priorities with regard to fire prevention, fire protection, firefighters’ needs, and budgetary considerations?

The budget is approximately 14 million dollars a year. It sounds like a lot, but funding of personnel and engines are costly but requirements to have the best trained and best equipped fire department as ours requires excellent budgetary skills, planning, and being a forward thinker. The safety of our community is my top priority. We live in a fire prone district of mixed use from suburban, rural, agricultural, light industry and manufacturing, forest, new projects like the 15-year sand mining project on El Monte, new proposals for industry on Moreno, an Equestrian Center on Willow Road, and several large housing projects as we are growing economically and that will bring more demand of our fire resources. I reside on Muth Valley Road and when the Cedar Fire started, most homes up here were lost, and the loss of life was greatest within 2 miles of my home and we only have one way out.

I support term limits, and always keeping our Board comprised of civilians. This allows checks and balances to be in place, in my opinion. Meetings are twice a month and believe that all attendance by Board Members is essential to have a governing and proactive team. Missing meetings is not an option unless family emergency or illness. 

What are your priorities with regard to fire prevenion, fire protection, firefighters’ needs, and budgetary considerations?

I support having the best trained firefighters and the equipment they need for our growing population and businesses.  Clear communication, dedication, void of politics, and remembering that the citizens voted us into office is essential for a well-run Board. I am committed to making sound decisions and working cooperatively with fellow Board Members’, obtaining the very best information and dedicated to any additional training asked of me. Supporting our volunteer services and maintaining staff is very personal to me as a civilian volunteer and includes C.E.R.T., Logistics, and Volunteer Firefighters’.

Who are your most important endorsements from?

Again, this position is a non-partisan, elected post by all voters. Our personnel save lives and our homes and businesses and politics has no place of influence for anyone within emergency services, either Republican or Democrat. However, I have been endorsed by the Republican Party of San Diego County and by Mr. Carl DeMaio.  I am grateful for their recognition of my credentials.

How do your views and priorities differ from those on the board?

I am not an incumbent and would be honored by your support as I believe whatever your party preference, please examine the motivation, drive, experience, and passion of the candidates and place your valuable vote to those-3 candidates.

Term limits should be in place as well, as stated earlier, always keeping our Fire Board Directors’ as civilians for checks and balances. I pledge to attend all meeting and any recommended training unless of some family or personal emergency, of course. 

I am a retired educator and substitute teacher and occasionally teach in the Lakeside Union School District and often in the bilingual programs but have worked in all the schools and enjoy it.

During Hurricane Katrina, I was on standby with my search dog to be deployed to Biloxi, Mississippi by the Biloxi Police Department. Katrina hit New Orleans badly, but Biloxi was mostly destroyed. I was ready on a 24-hour notice to deploy for search and recovery as a volunteer. That wonderful canine has since passed and have trained a new dog for search work and she is a pleasure to have around.

 I consider myself a rancher at this stage in my life and my activities revolve around family, friends, my horses, other livestock, hiking, aviation, camping, exploring, my 5 dogs, and balancing my life with my volunteer commitments.

 In close, I want to thank Miriam Raftery of the East Count Magazine for this opportunity. It is certainly appreciated. And, I wish the best for the other 4 gentlemen in this race and urge all voters to particulate in the November 6th; election for our Federal, State, and Local Offices.

My core beliefs are integrity, passion, accountability, and patriotism.


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