Four candidates run for two open Summit Fire & EMS board seats |

Four candidates run for two open Summit Fire & EMS board seats

The election is on May 3; voters can cast their ballots in person or by absentee voting

Joe Ben Slivka, Mike Rifkin, Dan Johnson and Ben Broughton are all running for two open seats for the Summit Fire & EMS board of directors. The election occurs on May 3 and voters can cast their ballots in person or by absentee voting.
Courtesy images

For the first time in years, Summit Fire & EMS is hosting an election to fill two of five seats on its board of directors.

The election is on May 3. Voters can cast their ballots either by absentee voting or in person at the Summit Fire & EMS administration building located at 0035 County Shops Road in Frisco. Currently, the board is governed by President Lori Miller, Vice President Jen Barchers, treasurer Ben Broughton and board members Linda St. John and Jim Lee.

Lee is retiring from the board, and Broughton’s seat is up for election. Both seats are three-year terms. Steve Lipsher, spokesperson for Summit Fire & EMS, said that this is the first time in years were the organization has more candidates than open seats, which is why it’s holding an election.

In general, Lipsher said the board is responsible for the management and financial oversight of Summit Fire & EMS and that it does not concern itself with day-to-day operations. The board usually meets about once a month. Summit Fire & EMS provides services to Copper Mountain, Frisco, Dillon, Dillon Valley, Heeney, Keystone, Montezuma and Silverthorne. It also provides services to the unincorporated areas of Summit Cove and Wildernest.

To be eligible as a candidate, Lipsher said individuals must be a registered voter in Colorado and a resident of the district or a taxpayer or property owner in the district. A spouse of a taxpayer or property owner can also run.

The candidates running for the two open spots are Broughton, Dan Johnson, Joe Ben Slivka and Mike Rifkin.

Where do you live within the Summit Fire & EMS Fire Protection District, and what do you do?

Johnson has lived in Summit Cove for about 22 years and has worked with a fire department on the Front Range for about 20 years. Rifkin owns ​​Rifkin Insurance Associates, Inc. and has lived in Frisco for about 23 years. Slivka works as a director of engineering for a Fortune 500 company and has been a Summit County resident for more than 40 years. Broughton has split his 23 years in the county between Copper Mountain and Frisco. He is the owner and managing broker of Real Estate at Copper Mountain, which he’s held for the past 10 years.

Why do you want to serve on the Summit Fire & EMS board of directors?

Johnson said he believes that he has ideas that would help guide the organization to become a leader in the region, especially regarding how it does business for both the external and internal stakeholders.

Broughton said Summit Fire & EMS has gone through rapid growth and that the organization is responsible for both commercial and residential fire operations and permitting, as well as emergency management services and mitigating wildfire risks. Broughton said he believes the board has a lot of opportunity to make a positive, meaningful impact in these aspects.

Slivka said he has prior experience with public safety and has held various positions with not just Summit Fire & EMS but also the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District and the Summit County Communications Center. With a passion for this line of work, Slivka said he wants to use his experience to help the greater Summit County community.

“My desire to serve on the board of directors is simple: I want to make a difference in the community I call home,” he said. “I want to ensure that the lives and property in our community are protected to the maximum extent possible with the funding we have available, and I want to help build a pathway to the future for fire and (emergency management services) in our community.”

Like Slivka, Rifkin said he wants to give back to his community, especially as the county’s population continues to grow.

What issues involving Summit Fire & EMS are of concern to you? How would you like to address them?

Broughton said he is focused on how the department will handle wildfire mitigation efforts. He noted that he was part of the current board’s decision to create a new – and separate – wildland fire division with Fire Chief Travis Davis. He added that additional funding will be needed in the future when ballot Measure 1A eventually sunsets. He also expressed interest in tackling other issues such as employee recruitment and exploring the need for a new station in Silverthorne.

Johnson said one of his biggest concerns relates to employee retention. He voiced support for collaborating with the Summit Combined Housing Authority as well as local realtors to get staff in safe and stable places to live.

“We can buy all the equipment we want, but if we do not retain employees, we are stuck in a cycle of always looking to replace the numbers that are leaving,” Johnson said. “We need to look at reasons for (why) these employees are leaving.”

Slivka pointed to numerous issues that have caught his attention, including finding additional funding for Summit Fire & EMS, employee recruitment and retention, ensuring the district can adequately respond to calls in a reasonable amount of time, building on its emergency management services department and increasing wildfire mitigation efforts.

Rifkin said his No. 1 priority would be educating the public about the dangers of wildfire.

“As the population continues to grow, it is imperative that the services provided keep pace with the growth and that Summit Fire & EMS is equipped to handle the growth,” Rifkin said. “To that end, education is paramount in helping residents understand the dangers of wildfire and proper steps for mitigation.”

What experience, insights and skills do you bring to your candidacy?

Broughton pointed to his past experience, which includes serving as the director the board of the former Copper Mountain Metro District and helping create the intergovernmental agreement to help form Summit Fire & EMS, among other things.

Johnson pointed to his experience as firefighter in a district on the Front Range for the past 20 years as well as being a current taxpayer in the Summit Fire & EMS district. He has helped facilitate communication between various stakeholders in the past, which could prove useful, if elected, he said.

Slivka runs a software development team focused on building software and solutions specifically for public safety, and he said that the opportunity to work with agencies all over the world gives him a leg up. As a businessperson, he said he views Summit Fire & EMS as a business with multiple revenue streams that can be tapped to help sustain it into the future.

Rifkin said he has over 42 years of experience in the insurance industry and that he welcomes the opportunity to serve and bring new ideas and perspectives wherever possible.

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