Four vying for three Loomis Fire Protection District seats

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Four candidates are vying for three seats on the Loomis Fire Protection District board of directors. The incumbents are John Shearer, Dennis Gage and Bryan Thomson. Jon Bergstrom is seeking a seat on the board for the first time. Gage was elected to the district board two years ago to serve a short term. “We’ve done a lot in those two years,” said Gage, who said there is more to be done. “We’re now able to work with the town council and the county. We’ve got good relations we developed there and need to continue those kinds of relationships.” During his term, Gage said the board has “undertaken quite a number of financial issues. I was on the board and worked hard to pass the measure that got us solvent again.” The measure mandated the adoption of an oversight committee to oversee the expenditure of funds. Gage serves on the committee with fellow board member Bill Tudsbury and three district residents. Gage, 60, is a 10-year Loomis resident and an Auburn native. He comes from a family that has lived in Placer County for five generations. Gage retired after 32 years with Placer County, the last 12 of those years as a public works manager. He is now a fleet consultant, evaluating vehicle fleets for municipalities and agencies. Bryan Thomson, 43, is completing a 4-year term on the Loomis Fire District board. He has been a firefighter since 1982, when he joined the Citrus Heights fire district that eventually merged with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District where he is now employed. He is a ????? Loomis resident. “I have a background in the fire service and can bring that to the board,” Thomson said. With the state of the economy, Thomson realizes the Loomis Fire District will face funding challenges, despite the fire measure passed this year that will increase the district’s revenue. “We’re in the planning stages on ways we can make the fire district a better district,” he said. “We’ve made some minor changes in finances and pay rises and other things to keep the firefighters around. We haven’t seen any of the money yet, but we’re moving forward.” Jon Bergstrom said he became involved with the Loomis Fire District when he worked to help the district pass the bond issue. He feels it’s an “excellent” district that is well run under Fire Chief Dave Wheeler. He wants to see a strong, locally controlled department that will “benefit everyone, especially the senior citizens, as more and more calls are for medical assist,” Bergstrom said. A strong department also means a” fiscally conservative department,” said the 52-year-old Loomis business owner. Bergstrom has lived in Loomis for 18 years and for the last four years he has owned Afton Medical, a medical manufacturing company that has 16 employees. Shearer, who was appointed to the board in October 2003, was unavailable to comment for the print version of this story. He returned to Loomis late Thursday evening, Oct. 23, from a month-long, cross-country trip. Shearer, 65, retired from the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller. He has lived in Loomis for seven years. Shearer said he is running for another term on the board to “finish what we started five years ago, we took on the financial problems of the district, which were many.” One task Shearer wants to complete is contract negotiations with the Loomis Firefighters Association. Another important goal, said Shearer, is to provide advanced life support in the fire district. “I think it’s the single most important thing I can do for the district in my next four years, besides keeping the finances out of trouble,” he said. The district would achieve advanced life support by adding paramedics to the fire trucks, Shearer explained. “We have three fighters who could be qualified as paramedics, but we can not use them in that capacity because we don’t have the infrastructure to do that.” The “infrastructure” is life support equipment and a local hospital to sponsor the district to handle drugs and medication. “We are first responders,” Shearer said. “If you have paramedics on your truck, as the first ones on the scene you can administer medications and life-saving drugs, which we can’t now. Right now, we have to wait for an ambulance.” Waiting even two minutes for an ambulance “can be pretty critical,” he said. The Fire District board recently named Shearer, who had been serving as vice president, to fill the president’s position, left vacant when Greg Fellers relocated and resigned his seat. At the same time, Gage was chosen vice president. Board members must appoint a replacement for Fellers by Nov. 1, or within 60 days of Feller’s resignation. If the seat remains open beyond that date, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will make the appointment to attain a five-member board. The Fire District board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, to make its selection.