GRAND LAKE — In a four to one vote, the Grand Lake Fire Protection District board adopted a resolution canceling the Feb. 4 election on board term limits.
The decision came after confusion and the perception among some district residents that the election had been secretive, following the bare-minimum legal requirements to announce it. The election also came less than two years after a similar ballot question in May 2012, in which voters already rejected repealing term limits for board members.
Fire Chief Mike Long said the district had “healing to do” in being better communicators to the community, during a special fire district board meeting held on Monday, Jan. 27.
“Obviously we’ve learned a tremendous amount about what the community wants,” Long said.
The fire chief and board members also said that a recent Sky-Hi article on the election had caused bad press, and voters instead would make decisions based on perception about the fire department instead of the ballot issue. In a joint press release statement issued after the Jan. 27 meeting, board members said the divisive nature of the election was not their intent.
“Quite contrary to our intent, some community members have used the election discussion to cast doubt on the community spirit and competency of the fire department,” the board members said in the statement. “By cancelling the election, we believe we will give the community time to heal.”
Both Long and the board members discussed going beyond the legal requirements for announcing future elections and district matters, including posting notices in the town’s library, post office and market. They also spoke of developing a community newsletter or adding more information to the fire district website, which is in the process of being updated.
“We stumbled,” Long said. “The community wants more information. We will give them that additional information.”
The only member voting “nay” on the resolution’s adoption was Fred Schroeder, who was appointed to the board 18 months ago. He stated that while he agreed canceling the election was a good idea, he still believed term limits for local government were a “bad deal.”
Three board seats are up for election this May. Between now and the board election, Long said he’ll work to “reinforce community support for the fire department and dispel the rumors and mistruths about the service it provides Grand Lake and its residents,” according to the press release.
District residents interested in running for a board position must file their paperwork by Friday, Feb. 28. For more information, contact the district’s designated election official, Cheryl Dale, at 970-627-8428.
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.