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Northeast Teller County fire board election prompting debate - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Northeast Teller County fire board election prompting debate

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WOODLAND PARK -

Voters within the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District will decide Tuesday which three candidates will serve on the fire department's board of directors.

It's a nonpartisan election, but the rhetoric surrounding the vote has turned partisan.

Three incumbents — Secretary Shirley Douthit, Vice Chairman Mike Sperry, and Chairman of the Board James Ignatius — are all seeking re-election in Tuesday's election. They've helped govern the fire department over the last few years, including key financial decisions amid population growth.

All incumbents are being supported by the Teller County Republican Party.

They're being challenged by a trio of candidates supported by the Woodland Park Professional Firefighters — the union comprised of all 12 firefighters in the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District.

Bill Anderson, Mona Moeller and Larry Russell were all vetted by the firefighters, who tell News 5 they present a better future for the fire department.

David Prutsman, president of the union, said these candidates provide a path to improving firefighters' concerns in safety, staffing, standards and training. He told News 5 the firefighters, who do not have collective bargaining power, want to have an increased role in the decisions that impact their daily work.

"Having that input for the bigger picture of public safety in our community is important," Prutsman said. "You need to address subject matter experts, authorities in their fields before you can make decisions that affect 12,000 people."

Both on Facebook and off Woodland Park streets, Teller County Republicans are calling for voters to step up and stop the union.

News 5 reached out to the incumbents for comment Sunday. All either declined or were unable to talk on camera.

The absentee ballot period has closed, but registered voters living within the fire protection district are able to vote in Tuesday's election. The polls, which are inside the fire station at 1010 Evergreen Heights Drive in Woodland Park, are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Download the KOAA News 5 App iOS/iPhone here and for Android here.

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