Fire Protection District candidates field questions from women voters

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | 10:21 p.m. CDT; updated 11:00 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — The candidates for the Boone County Fire Protection District Board of Directors came together to discuss topics at the League of Women Voters Issues Forum on Tuesday night.

About 30 members of the public showed up to hear the candidates speak at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center. Fire District Chief Steve Paulsell was also in the audience.

The April 8 ballot will put two items to the vote regarding the Fire Protection District. One item has already been addressed since Dave Griggs is running unopposed for re-election and will not be on the ballot. The second involves filling the two additional positions that were created when voters approved expanding the board in 2006. Boone County voters will vote for two candidates; the person with the most votes will have a six-year term on the board, and the one with the second highest number of votes will receive a four-year term.

Candidates Mickey Nichols, a volunteer firefighter for the district; Phyllis Fugit, a retired accountant for the city of Columbia’s finance department; Mike McMillen, a former lobbyist for Shelter Insurance; Mike Becker, a former UPS union steward; and John Sam Williamson, a farmer, were all present Tuesday. Dave Griggs, a former county commissioner and business owner, was also in attendance.

In their two-minute opening statements, candidates talked about their families, work experience and goals they have for the fire district. The audience was then given the opportunity to ask questions. Only three questions were raised for each of the candidates.

Boone County resident Vicki Hobbs asked the candidates to provide a rationale for sending fire engines on non-fire calls. She said she had some questions about resource allocation after she was involved in a medical call that was responded to by a fire engine, four trucks and an ambulance.

Candidate Mickey Nichols, a volunteer firefighter for the district, told Hobbs that the fire district does not typically send engines to medical emergencies, but in some cases they have to send what is closest.

Hobbs said after the forum that her question was not adequately answered and that she felt that there were some remaining questions about resource allocation. She said that the expertise of the candidates on issues like this will be the most important factor when she decides how to vote.

“You have to go with the people who have the best judgment and understanding of how the district is run, not who knows whom,” Hobbs said.

Paulsell approached Hobbs after the forum and asked her for more information about the emergency and then explained that not every station has medical first-response vehicles.

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