Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District holds candidate forum for upcoming board of directors election

5 candidates are running for 3 open positions on the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District board of directors

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
Candidates for three open positions on the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District gathered Tuesday, April 11, at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge for a candidate forum.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

The Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District will hold an election Tuesday, May 2, to fill three open positions on its board of directors.

The election features a three-way race for two four-year terms and a two-way race for a two-year term. Candidates gathered at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge on Tuesday, April 11, for a question and answer session moderated by Krystal 93 News Director Phil Lindeman.

Philip Gudlewski, Olivia (Liv) Syptak and James Brook are competing for the pair of four-year terms. Meanwhile, Austyn Dineen and Richard Rafferty are facing off for a two-year term. Rafferty was unable to attend the candidate forum Tuesday.

Lindeman introduced Rafferty, despite his absence, as an incumbent member and current vice-president of the Red, White & Blue board. Rafferty, a retired technology director for an international consulting firm, has served on the board eight years.

According to a message read aloud by Lindeman, Rafferty has enjoyed working with the fire protection district’s on efforts to receive accreditation through various professional firefighting commissions, including the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

Brook, another incumbent, said he has lived in the community for 18 years and has retired from a career as a financial executive in the financial and gas industries. He said he worked as a ski patroller for a season and has been involved with the Rotary Club of Summit County, the board of directors for the Highlands of Breckenridge Homeowners Association and St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church for most of his time in the area.

“I want to see us continue to build strength, to see progression from within, to see continuous improvement,” Brook said. “Working through our strategic plan, I want to see us have a good solid collective bargaining agreement that we’re working in the early stages now to negotiate, and most of all I want the community and all the people that work for the organization to feel that they are the best, which I feel they are.”

Syptak, meanwhile, has served on the Red, White & Blue board of directors since February, when she was appointed to the position. A resident of Summit County for about 19 years, Syptak said she has experience working at global mining companies, including managing large-scale information technology projects and managing multi-million dollar budgets.

“I think a board really owes it to the people that it serves to truly listen to what its constituents have to say, and in that you learn what their experience is and then you learn… how to support them,” Syptak said. “I see my role as a board member as a listener and then an asker of questions.”

Gudlewski introduced himself as a Summit County resident of 10 years who works for the town of Dillon’s water department. He said he worked briefly as an EMT in Davenport, Iowa, and for 4.5 years as a ski patroller at Killington Resort in Vermont, adding that he hopes to become more involved in the Summit County community by throwing his hat in the ring for a position on the Red, White & Blue board.

“My vision for this is for the community to respect the department and the department to have that equal, if not higher, respect for the community,” Gudlewski said.

Dineen said she has lived in the community for 18 years and has a first-responder husband who works as a ski patroller at Breckenridge. She said she has held various communication and public information officer positions in Summit County, including with the Breckenridge Tourism Office, Swift Communications and in joint public information officer positions coordinating communications related to wildfires and the pandemic.

“​​No matter the organization, it’s really imperative that we on our board have a reflective and diverse opinion across all seats,” Dineen said. “I do think part of any successful board is to ensure that all of those seats are reflecting different portions of our workforce and our community to ensure that we are serving those people appropriately.”

A video of the question and answer session is available on the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District’s Facebook page. Residents of the fire protection district, people owning taxable real or personal property located within the district or the spouse of a person owning taxable real or personal property within the district may vote.

Polls will be open at the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District administrative offices at 316 N. Main St. in Breckenridge from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 2. Absentee ballots must be requested through Designated Election Official Crystal Schott by 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 25. Schott can be contacted at, or at  303-218-7203.

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