Jed Gray deserves re-election on Nov. 5 as your Ketchum Rural Fire District commissioner. I have served with him as a fire commissioner for more than a decade, and his single goal is to make sure that the north Blaine County residents have the best fire protection services available.
I believe that independent, non-firefighter Rural Fire District commissioners are needed for these positions and not commissioners who also serve as volunteer or professional firefighters. I know this because I did both. I served as a Ketchum Fire Rural commissioner at the same time that I was a volunteer firefighter for Ketchum. Frankly, I loved both jobs but, finally, the personal and professional conflicts from wearing both hats became untenable. As a commissioner and volunteer firefighter, I found over the past 25 years that firefighters did their best to try to lever my friendship and position as a fellow firefighter in matters pertaining to KRFD governance. Furthermore, every fire chief had concerns during fire incidents about whether I was simply one of their volunteers or was I critiquing them as their commissioner. It was also personally challenging when my fellow firefighters would mention that I would get favorable assignments because of my KRFD role.
There will be ongoing discussions about north valley fire consolidation. The Ketchum Rural Fire District needs commissioners who are independent of any fire department. Jed Gray has demonstrated his independence over and over again. I hope that you will vote for him on Nov. 5, and that my vacancy will be filled with another independent voice. There are just too many conflicts for someone being part of a firefighting team and serving as an elected official making decisions that impact them.
Chris R. Stephens, Paramedic, KRFD commissioner (1994-2019)