By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
Both Ron Christopher and Shannon Riddell-Norstrom, running for Keizer Rural Fire Protection District Director, Position 1, come from a long line of firefighters.
Christopher’s father was a volunteer firefighter in Redmond for over 40 years and his uncle was the Fire Chief of Redmond for more than 30 years.
“Fire service has been a part of my entire life and I am proud to contribute to the services provided in my home town,” Christopher said.
Riddell-Norstrom’s grandfather was one of the first volunteer firefighters in Keizer in the 1950s. Her uncle also served.
“He (uncle) would drag me to the fire station and let me go down the pole and look at the engines, Riddell-Norstrom said. “I just have a lot of fond memories of being a kid and getting to go to the fire station.”
Both Christopher, the incumbent, and Riddell-Norstrom are also long-time Keizer residents.
Christopher and his wife, Lore, the former mayor, have lived in Keizer for over 30 years and raised their children here.
“I have deep connections with the citizens that I represent,” Christopher said. “I listen to what they have to tell me and I am committed to represent them in the way I feel they would want.”
Riddell-Norstrom was raised in Keizer, graduating from McNary High School, and has been looking for ways to give back to the community.
She believes her healthcare background as a hospital and retail pharmacist makes her a good fit to serve on the fire board.
“Just with that background in healthcare, safety and health concerns, those are more in the forefront of what I enjoy doing and helping people,” Riddell-Norstrom said.
Christopher, who is running for a second term, after getting elected in 2013, prides himself on being a fiscal conservative.
“During the last budget cycle one decision that kept me up at night, was the decision to vote against a 6 percent cost of living increase for our professional firefighters,” Christopher said. “The consumer price index was at 2-plus percent and I could not justify a cost of living increase that exceeded the actual cost of living.”
Christopher has also expressed his opinion that KFD not get in the boat business.
“Current emergency waterway scenarios are managed by the Marion County Sheriffs Office,” Christopher said. “To my knowledge they do not need the additional assistance and Keizer residents do not need the additional cost.”
Christopher believes the biggest issue facing the fire board is succession.
“We are going to be losing some very excellent long term fire service employees to retirement in the next years, just like many other government agencies,” Christopher said. “We need policy and up-dated structure in place that meets the needs of the Keizer community in 2017 and beyond to accommodate these personnel changes.”
Christopher has also learned more about complex budgeting and funding sources during his four-year term.
“Just being able to understand incremental tax financing took awhile, and transient occupancy taxing,” he said. “These are not revenue sources that I was familiar with, but they do have a critical impact on government’s ability to provide services to the community.”
Because of her personal background, Riddell-Norstrom believes looking at budgets would be one of her strengths.
“Obviously, money in healthcare is huge,” she said. “I’m able to process information and understand what’s going on and give good feedback and ideas. There’s a lot of planning in pharmacy, especially in hospital pharmacy, where you’re gathering information from patients and planning down the line. A lot of the budgetary things are interesting to me because I enjoy numbers.”
Riddell-Norstrom also wants to see KFD continue its strong services even as the population grows.
“We have an amazing response time and we’re going to have to find ways to stretch those dollars to continue that kind of service and grow as a city,” Riddell-Norstrom said. “I thought that was something maybe I could help with.”
Joe Van Meter is also running for re-election on the KFD but he is unopposed.