Rhonda Andrewson, candidate for the Idyllwild Fire Commission. Photo by J.P Crumrine
Next month the Idyllwild Fire Protection District will hold its mail-in ballot election for three seats Board of Commissioners. Four candidates — Commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall, Rhonda Andrewson, Steve Kunkle and Nancy Layton — are vying for the three seats.

The Town Crier will interview each candidate and sponsor a Candidate’s Forum in early August for the benefit of the district’s voters and the whole community.

At her July 12 interview, Rhonda Andrewson, former IFPD administrative assistant, said she was quite excited and honored to be a candidate for public office.

“I’ve been seeing a different direction for the department in the past three years,” she said. “I’m feeling it’s mostly in a counterproductive mode.” Consequently, she decided to throw her hat in the race.

“If you want to see things move in a different direction, you have to be pro-active,” she affirmed.

TC: Do you believe IFPD has a financial problem?

RA: “I do believe there are enough resources; but they have to be handled more appropriately,” Andrewson stated.

Using a metaphor of riding a horse, she stressed that the rider must firmly control the reins; otherwise, the horse will gallop in its own direction.

The commission initiated discussions about the possibility of increasing its special “parcel” tax. Your opinion?

“I do feel we need to get our house in order. The constituents need to feel confident in us and that we are fiscally responsible,” Andrewson replied. If the commission can convince voters that it is a fiscal watchdog, “we won’t have an issue asking for increases.

“As the administrative assistant, I’ve helped with the budget. But I’m a taxpayer, first and foremost. And as a taxpayer, like anyone else, I want to do it right, which means involve the people and you’ll have less of an issue,” she stressed.

What’s the higher priority — new equipment (ambulance) or salaries?

Andrewson would like to see growth of both, but emphasized that would only occur if the commission were fiscally responsible. “If one’s house is in order, it allows you the opportunity to go outside and talk to people about growth,” she said.

What’s IFPD’s mission? Is a long-range plan needed?

In her opinion, and she stated without hesitation, “Number one, we do medical and ambulance.” To improve these services, she is ready to approach state and federal officials for assistance.

“How can we give good service without good equipment?” she asked. From her medical background, she referred to the “golden hour” an individual has if a heart attack occurs.

“Much of that time here is chewed up driving down the Hill,” Andrewson stressed. Consequently, quality medics, emergency technicians, supplies and other equipment are paramount, she said.