Editor’s note: Over the next three weeks, the Town Crier will interview each of the six candidates for seats on the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission. The series begins with interviews with incumbent commissioners Pete Capparelli and Paul Riggi. Ballots mailed to voters are due back to the Registrar of Voters’ office by Aug. 30. Capparelli has served on the commission since December 2009.
What are IFPD’s priorities for the next year and next five years?
Our highest priority is to get the ballot measure (Measure G) passed. We need to increase the parcel fee to build our reserves in order to have money for new equipment and building maintenance. I also expect to form a committee to develop policy on accountability within the department.
How can you help achieve these priorities?
My business background helps. But it is a problem, too. In the past, I ran my business without having to answer to anyone or to work within rules of the public sector.
It’s been a transition, but not hard — apply common sense.
Are the district’s finances resolved? What is the need for Measure G?
We’re near the break-even point. Still, we haven’t solved the problem of reserves or savings for future equipment. We need to be prepared for future costs, such as new ambulances. The accountant helped us get the fiscal house in order, now we have to keep it right.
Are there operational priorities?
Accountability, we need more as a department. Little things, such as lights and air conditioning, as well as big things. The commission will look to the chief to enforce these policies.
What about getting more inspections completed?
We’re getting good at these. It’s part of the job.
What about the latest grand jury report? Will IFPD do the study?
I’m glad for the grand jury’s report and we’ll look at each recommendation. But we’re not seeing a push to separate our medical and fire protection missions. We just don’t have the resources to do a major cost analysis. We’ll do the best we can.
Why did the paid-call cadre virtually disappear?
Besides Steve Friemoth and Keith Smith, we’re not seeing much interest in the paid-call positions. We now have a volunteer unit for those people who are genuinely interested in fighting fires.
The current commission cares about its duty, listening to the public and financial accountability. For anyone without public sector or board experience, serving is a learning opportunity; but I feel the board is overcoming those hurdles now. What brought us all here is public service. The commission is going in the right direction.