Valcarcel and Price appointed Fire Board commissioners preceding November election
On Monday, June 15, in an unanimous decision by the Fire Board, Ila Valcarcel and Neil Price were appointed Matlacha/Pine Island Fire District Commissioner seats one and two.
Seat one was appointed to Valcarcel in the absence of Michael Dreikorn, who vacated the seat to pursue a seat as County Commissioner. Seat two was appointed to Price, after it was vacated by Elaine Chapman-Moore, who resigned.
Commissioner Valcarcel has been a part of the Pine Island community for over 25 years and says she attends Fire Board meetings regularly. She welcomes the opportunity to serve in her new position as commissioner and feels that it’s a very good fit.
“I’m excited and very proud to have been appointed by the board to better serve the Pine Island community at this level,” said Valcarcel. “I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse of the fire department pretty diligently for the past couple of years. They’re really good people, and I want to be a part of that.”
Price, whose background is in civil and environmental engineering, holds a master’s degree in planning and public administration. Although his career began in county government, he said this experience is bringing him back to a lot of the things he cut his teeth on. He said he has been active at meeting attendance and observing the Fire Board in action. He’s happy to have been appointed and given the opportunity to serve on the Fire Board.
“I have a strong interest in our ability to serve our community and its needs,” said Price, who finds medical services of particular importance.
Price said he looks forward to serving with the Fire Board to provide the best possible services, and embraces future plans to improve response levels in regard to medical capabilities. Price said he feels response time is crucial in a case such as a cardiac event.
“Minutes save lives,” said Price, “so these are very important factors for me.”
In addition to seats one and two, seat three, currently held by Commissioner Tonya Player, is also up for re-election in November. Player will be re-elected, unopposed, maintaining her seat.
“Pine Island has been my home forever,” said Player. “I think you’ve got to make a difference if you can. I feel I’ve made a difference and hope to continue making a difference for a long time. I really appreciate the confidence, it’s an honor.”
In November’s election, voters will decide between Jamie DeLacey, who has also qualified to run against Valcarcel for seat one, as well as Ted Serrell and Gordon Short, who will run against Price for seat two.
DeLacey, who holds a degree in communications and interdisciplinary studies, looks forward to running for the seat, as she said she likes to stay civically engaged. She said her father was the one who originally encouraged her to run. She said she feels keeping finances in focus is an important part of her campaign.
“Approximately 24% of our tax bracket goes to the Fire District,” said DeLacey. “You also have to maintain the quality of active firemen.”
Having used medical services often the past few years, due to aging and ill parents, DeLacey said she’s built a rapport with many of the medical personnel on duty, giving her a unique perspective of the importance of the job.
Short, who holds a B.A. in economics as well as an M.A. in management, resides in Bokeelia. He notes the financial aspect of the local Fire District, admitting that his background in economics is a big portion of what he would bring to the table in being on the Fire Board. He cites, for example, the cost of every employee in the fire department to be $152,000 yearly.
“When I analyzed my tax bill last year, I realized that the local fire department was 24% of my tax bill,” said Short, “which was nearly double any other community that I researched. It became intuitively obvious that there was an opportunity to make significant budget reductions without a loss of service.”
Serrell has been on Pine Island for over 23 years. As a former business owner, Serrell said he knows what it’s like to have to make payroll and meet tax obligations. He also served as a volunteer firefighter in Vermont, reaching the rank of assistant fire chief.
“That brings the perspective of rank and file to the Fire Control District Board,” said Serrell. “My direction will be service and stewardship. I look forward to hearing the will of the people in November.”