Today's Question: Should the public be allowed to speak to the fire chief candidates?

Monday, August 3, 2009 | 9:41 a.m. CDT; updated 1:27 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 3, 2009

The Boone County Fire Protection District board of directors met last Tuesday to discuss the search for the new fire chief.

Steve Paulsell, the previous fire chief, retired late last year after reaching an agreement with the board. Scott Olsen was selected to fill the position temporarily and is currently one of the 15 applicants being considered for the position.

The board should have the list of candidates narrowed down to a few finalists this week, board member Shelly Dometrorch said. The candidates will then come to Columbia for a two-day interview session, which she said might take place during the first two weeks of September.

One tool that the board is implementing for this interview session is an independent review panel, which will include members of various public safety agencies, fire district volunteers and Boone County citizens, Dometrorch said. Panel members will ask questions submitted by volunteers and employees of the fire district. The panel’s interview of the candidates will be open to the public, but the public will not be allowed to comment or ask their own questions.

Should the public be allowed to speak to the fire chief candidates?

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Dennis Cavin August 4, 2009 | 8:26 p.m.

Why not? As long as the question section of the interview is coordinated properly, has a time limit, and and someone is in charge of the interview question period, I see a great deal of good coming from the public. It also keeps the citizens of the Fire District involved with the system. After all, it is their money and their District. A word of caution, it might be necessary to ask each of the candidates the same questions in order for the perceptions to be that same from each candidate.

However, any involvement by the general public is a good thing. Keep things open and honest.

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