Typically, there isn’t a ton of contention in Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner races.
The same is true this time around. Only the newest commissioner, former Central Valley School District Superintendent Mike Pearson, Position 3, is seeing a challenge in the November general election. And it comes from an unusual source – a former CVSD student, Kristopher Pockell.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: Married and have lived in the Spokane Valley for over 30 years and have raised four wonderful daughters here, all attending and graduating from Central Valley schools.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I am running for re-election and was first appointed in 2012. After retiring from the field of public education, I promised myself that I would continue fulfilling roles that I could feel passionate about and hopefully provide some return to the organization. In 2012, when a vacancy occurred on the SFVD board, I did a great deal of research, felt strongly about their vision and mission statement, and reviewed as much data as possible. Through this process, my passion for what they are about grew and I applied for the position. Today, I am the chairman of a very stable and experienced board for which I have gained a great deal of respect as they have demonstrated great leadership in moving the department forward from the board level. Evidence of this leadership includes a zero bond-indebtedness philosophy and the hiring of a very experienced fire chief.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley Fire commissioners? I believe the constituents in our three communities -- the cities of Spokane Valley, Millwood, Liberty Lake and Otis Orchards -- appreciate both the professional service our fire department offers and the fact that we are financially conservative. I want to keep our focus on cost savings while at the same time plan for the future to better meet the needs of our communities.
I want to see the community partnerships evolve with Spokane Valley Fire Department being a leader in their development. For example, when our firefighters are called to one location multiple times to respond to an individual who needs our medical services, often dealing with the same issue(s), our department, working with other health care agencies, can assist in channeling that person to other agencies who are able to offer care that is more specific to that individual’s needs.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the department in the immediate future? Increases in health and Labor and Industry costs continue to skyrocket. To better budget for these increases, we need to have improved data from outside sources, received in a timely manner and aligned with our budget planning process. We will continue to be proactive in seeking better data in a timely manner!
Local agencies are often misplaced in the discussions dealing with major state and federal safety issues. An example would be the number of oil trains traveling through our area and the need to be involved in the planning and decision-making process centered around responding to a major accident. Like other local agencies, we need to be kept up to date on what tools and services are available to better address the preparedness of our community.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Recognizing that over 80 percent of our calls are related to the medical needs of our community, I am often asked why we don’t have smaller units, a.k.a. Alternative Response Units, to save on our equipment and travel expenses. As a department and in partnership with our unions, we are actively researching different delivery models that may better address our future needs. Having talked to agencies outside our geographical area, one size doesn’t fit all and each model has its own set of challenges. We will continue to research future options with the simple goal of providing the best service possible, in the most timely manner without diminishing the high quality of care we currently provide.
What differences separate you from your opponent? Experience! I’ve been given the opportunity to work with large numbers of staff, several unions, to oversee the management of large sums of money and work with dedicated boards within our community who have focused on meeting the needs of their constituents.
Involvement: After many years of involvement with our schools I continue to stay connected with our community. I am an active member of the Spokane Valley Career and Technical Education Advisory Council, participated with our library committees and have served on the Spokane Valley Fire Board of Commissioners since 2012.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: I'm engaged to be married. The date is next August. I have lived in Spokane Valley nearly my entire life. My family moved here in '88 and I lived in Las Vegas from '08 to '10, but other than that I've always lived in the Valley. I attended Central Valley High School while my opponent was the superintendent.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I am a card-carrying Libertarian. As a Libertarian, I feel that the focus of every elected official should be to interfere in the lives of citizens as little as possible, both financially and ethically. I also felt that this office would be a great place to start.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley Fire commissioners? Running the department at the lowest possible cost for Spokane Valley residents would be my main goal.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? The most surprising thing that people bring up isn't an issue, it's the fact that most people I talk to don't know what a fire commissioner does, or even that they exist.
This is the one thing I hear on a regular basis.
What differences separate you from your opponent? The main difference between my opponent and I is that I am a Libertarian. The Libertarian party is the party of principle, and we believe in lower taxes and more personal freedom.
Web site? democracy.com/votepockell