Candidates running for contested seat

Matthew Silva and Rick Snedeker are vying for the Position 1 seat on the Estacada Fire District Board of Directors in the May 21 special election.

Silva is the incumbent, and has held the seat since 2001.

Silva began volunteering with the fire district in 1988.

As a field paramedic, safety representative and acting environmental safety and health site manager with Bechtel Corporation, he worked in Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Algeria and India.

He has been an ambulance paramedic in the U.S. as well.

Silva has been working for Portland Fire and Rescue since 1999 and holds the rank of fire lieutenant.

He says bringing fiscal responsibility to the district is his biggest accomplishment as a board member so far.

In these trying economic times, streamlining the district’s budget has been a significant challenge.

“Basically your tax base doesn’t grow more than 2 percent to 3 percent while the cost of doing business goes up about 8 percent to 15 percent,” Silva said. “Looking for more effective and efficient ways to do business, that’s what I bring to the table.”

Silva explained that the district board of directors has encouraged Estacada Fire Chief Bob Morissey to communicate with Boring and Sandy’s Fire Chiefs to discuss possibilities of sharing resources, such as a public information officers and fire inspectors.

Silva said sharing officers such as these could save the district money on full-time employees.

He pointed to the district’s medical training as another thing he is proud of as a board member.

Silva explained that since ambulances come from either Clackamas or Sandy when responding to Estacada 9-1-1 calls, the district is the first line of response during medical emergencies.

All Estacada firefighters are trained in emergency medical services as they must be able to stabilize victims before the ambulance arrives.

“At basic minimum, at all times you have a paramedic (firefighter) respond if you’re having a medical emergency,” he said. “It’s standard to have a paramedic be able to roll out the door at all medical emergencies.”

This wasn’t always the case.

“We’ve actually brought it to this level this year,” Silva said.

Last year, the district hired one paramedic firefighter. Thanks in part to grant funding, an additional three were hired.

That brings the district's staffing to four paramedic firefighters and eight EMT intermediate trained firefighters.

Several of the volunteer firefighters have emergency medical technician or first responder training, as well.

Although Silva knew Snedeker’s parents as volunteer firefighters and paramedics in the 1980s, Silva does not personally know Snedeker.

Silva said he’d never seen Snedeker at a fire district function, board meeting, city function, volunteer meeting, open house or outreach meeting.

“(Snedeker) has had zero involvement with the fire district since I’ve been involved,” Silva said.

Silva mentioned that a few weeks ago, the Volunteer Firefighter Association had asked to hold a forum where they could ask both candidates questions. Silva shown up but Snedeker never arrived.

When asked about the forum later, Snedeker explained that he had mistakenly gone to the wrong building.

Citing his history and work as a full-time firefighter, Silva stated, “I have a very good understanding of the fire district.”

“Obviously, I have a love for this town and this community and I have a responsibility of bringing my knowledge of the fire service and a responsibility to the citizens of this town for another four years if re-elected,” he said.

Snedeker has lived in Estacada since he was two years old and went to kindergarten through high school in the district.

His parents were volunteer firefighters and paramedics in Estacada.

“I remember hanging out at the fire department when I was a little kid,” he said.

Snedeker’s only time away from Estacada was the five years he spent in the Army.

“I always thought I was going to be a volunteer firefighter when I got out of the service,” he said. Injuries prevented him from doing so.

Snedeker has worked at Napa Auto Parts for 10 years and attends Clackamas Community College where he is working toward a software engineering degree.

If elected, Snedeker plans to bring a student mentality to the Fire District Board of Directors.

“After the first board meeting I’d find out what the issues are and I would take them home and research them like any other research or paper for a college class then I’d bring back that information to the other members of the board,” he said.

Snedeker said he has “nothing against” Silva, but said of the Board of Directors, “maybe they need new eyes, fresh eyes.”

He said the fire district’s repeated failed attempts to pass bond measures was what prompted him to run for election.

“I want to get in there and see why they’re trying to get a bond measure passed. Maybe there is another avenue. Maybe a bond isn’t the answer,” he said.

Snedeker sees his lack of firefighting experience as giving him an outsider's perspective.

Once he understands the district’s problems he wants to “help them solve them and spend their money better. And keep them financially responsible.”

Snedeker said he could find other avenues for funding though he admitted to not having fundraising or budgeting experience.

“I’m new to all of this,” he said.

Nevertheless, Snedeker hopes for a new fire station.

“I know they respond to three or four times as many calls now as when that fire station was built. So they’ve outgrown it,” he said.

Snedeker is confident in his ability to find solutions to the Fire District’s issues. However, he does not feel he’ll have full access to those issues until elected to the board.

“I really don’t think I’d know what the problems are until I get on the fire board and address them then,” he said.

“Our fire board has made positive changes in the last couple of years. I believe we can do even better by strengthening citizen oversight and being even more fiscally responsible. Our firefighters serve the community in a professional way. I want our Board to do the same,” Snedeker wrote in his candidate statement in the Clacakamas County Voter’s Pamphlet.

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