MEET THE CANDIDATES: North Tahoe Fire Protection District | SierraSun.com

MEET THE CANDIDATES: North Tahoe Fire Protection District

Sierra Sun staff

In advance of the November general election, the Sierra Sun reached out to area candidates, asking each why they're running for office, what's the biggest challenge facing their district and how they would address it.

The following are responses from four candidates who seek one of two open seats on the North Tahoe Fire Protection District.

Nathan Chorey

Age: 37

Hometown: Southborough, MA

Occupation: Civil engineer

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Why are you running for office?

As a local civil engineer with a young family, I am uniquely qualified and conscious of issues that affect community safety and efficiency. For example, there are approximately 20 different water systems between the Placer/El Dorado county line and Stateline. What this means is fire hydrant coverage and fire flows can vary drastically from one neighborhood to the next, a challenge I encounter professionally that also affects community safety. I am running for NTFPD Board to help solve this and many other issues by working with the water districts, local agencies, and businesses to foster an environment of collaboration to benefit the overall community.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The most important current issue facing the NTFPD is the risk of becoming out of touch with the community needs. In our thriving economy, NTFPD has seen an increase in plan review applications of over 50 percent. This has caused substantial delays in NTFPD's plan review and stress for project applicants that are up against TRPA's grading deadline. This urgent matter required critical action and I am happy to report that Chief Schwartz recently authorized overtime for staff to respond to the increase in applications, a great first step. Additionally, I recommend holding public workshops this winter to help streamline the plan review and inspection process. These steps will create a more efficient and transparent process to help save the NTFPD and project applicants significant time and money. Finally, the NTFPD Board meetings should be video recorded and live streamed to reach community members unable to participate in person.

Heidi Doyle

Age: 63

Hometown: Tahoe Vista, CA

Occupation: Executive director, Sierra State Parks Foundation

Why are you running for office?

I am running because I want to make a positive impact in our community and have the background and experience required to provide leadership for the oversight of a large, complex fire district. While obtaining my degree in Natural Resources Management at Cal Poly, I was on the first woman wildland fire crew in California and have served as a volunteer firefighter with Meeks Bay Fire. During the course of my 32-year career with California State Parks, I worked side by side by emergency responders in the field. My graduate work in public policy and budget provides me with the background to provide careful oversight of complex budgets.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

Smart fire and emergency service management are critical to the health of our community. As a board member, I will serve the needs of our community in these four roles: 1) Ensure the budget is well managed and spending is within our means, 2) continue to hire fire leadership that excels in operating a complex fire agency with the ability to be responsive to the needs of our resort community, 3) provide strategic oversight that will identify community needs and strategies for completion and 4) I will be your bridge between our community and North Tahoe Fire. I will work towards resolving issues such as communication breakdowns during large emergency events, neighborhood preparedness, water systems reliability and permitting challenges. I will bring the solid leadership and fiscal oversight skills required to be an effective and proactive member of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Board of Directors. Thank you for your support and vote.

Steven Hook

Age: 67

Occupation: Transportation supervisor

Hometown: Tahoe Vista

Facebook: Steve Hook For North Tahoe Fire District Board

Why are you running for office?

As a 40-year North Tahoe resident, I watched our fire district grow from a small department of paid/volunteer firefighters, through a merger, to transition into highly trained, dedicated and motivated individuals delivering excellent emergency services. Having retired from NTFPD, I have a unique perspective/insight. I believe in: maintaining training and education of NTFPD staff; looking for ways to reduce wildfire fuel; looking out of the box for additional funding. I am passionate about protecting our beloved Lake Tahoe, its residents and visitors. I am knowledgable; I am experienced; I am committed to our community and its safety.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

Some of the issues are as follows: the devastating tree mortality of our surrounding forests which could lead to a catastrophic wildfire event; the continual upgrading of the emergency evacuation plans of the basin; and the fact that many of our livelihoods depend on the visitors in one way or another, safety is always prime issue. It is vital that our district continues to coordinate and work with local agencies and other fire departments provide a fast response to any fire. Finding additional funding from state and national programs through aggressive grant writing is essential to: reduce the forest fuel loading; provide the tools and training necessary to protect homes and lives from a devastating wildfire; continue to provide needed emergency services; and for the implementation of an emergency evacuations plan. Tahoe is home! I am passionate about protecting our homes and community.

Danielle Hughes

Age: 48

Hometown: Carnelian Bay

Occupation: Tahoe Transportation District Capital Program Manager

Facebook: Hughes for North Tahoe Fire Protection District

Why are you running for office?

My mission is to ensure the District is providing the most efficient and effective fire suppression, rescue and emergency medical services available while remaining fiscally responsible and transparent. I currently serve as a Fire Adapted Communities Leader within Carnelian Bay, as a Sugarpine Foundation Board Member, and have served on the Tahoe Resource Conservation District Board. I have a background in natural resources and management. I have seen what catastrophic events can do to a community when I provided emergency response services for Hurricane Katrina. I would like to do all I can to minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfire and protect our community.

What is the most important issue your district faces and how would you address it?

The growing number of visitors coming to the region are impacting our community services and increasing the demand on our limited communication network, our roadways, fire suppression, rescue and emergency medical services. I will work with the District to improve services through new technologies that can provide community warning systems and awareness for emergency response and evacuation in the event of a catastrophic wildfire. I will seek to obtain a fire boat as the District serves a significant portion of Lake Tahoe shoreline and our hydrants have limited capacity. I will continue to educate our community on emergency preparedness and defensible space and work to assure that fuels management activities continue to minimize risk of wildfire. Lastly, I will work to assure that our most vulnerable communities can access these resources.