Endorsement editorial: East Naples Fire District

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Election 2012 | East Naples fire board

Voters have the opportunity to keep the momentum moving forward on the long-awaited move toward fire-district consolidation.

We see signs that independent districts, strapped by dwindling budgets, are finally ready to think about reducing duplicate, wasteful, staff positions and services, and pooling resources.

In our editorial board interviews with candidates, we looked for leaders ready to catch the wave for formal or functional consolidation in any shape or size.

On Tuesday we look at candidates for North Naples and Golden Gate fire districts. Today we recommend these nonpartisan candidates in East Naples, where four of the board's five seats are up for review and voters can exert a rare level of influence:

Seat 1: Charlie Cottiers

This retired aerospace assembly line worker and taxi company owner in his native New York City aims to bring blue-collar, grass-roots business experience to the emergency services consolidation movement. He understands teamwork is the way to provide job security as well as tax savings.

His opponent, incumbent Angie Davis, says she is too upset to be interviewed about what Cottiers and his firefighters union supporters have in mind. We believe leadership requires such discussions.

Seat 2: Joe Schmitt

We liked his by-the-book style as a Collier County building and zoning director, and the Pentagon calls on his career military style to quick-build housing and other facilities for our troops around the world.

He says his mission here and now is to make his fire board seat obsolete.

For him, consolidation could be a piece of cake. He gets things done.

Also in race: Incumbent George Danz

Seat 3: Steve Hemping

He brings timely experience from a career in human relations and corporate mergers.

Hemping also brings positive energy and a record of community commitment and involvement.

He has a stake in doing the job properly, which means challenging the status quo and moving toward efficiency — even if it's not easy, and it won't be.

Also in race: Incumbent Thomas Cannon, Vicky DiNardo

Seat 5: Jeff Page

The former director of Collier County's award-winning Emergency Medical Services unit is the clear choice for progress and quality service.

His experience in the field, we believe, will help build bridges with agencies that should be working more closely together in the public interest.

Also in race: Incumbent Robert Hughes

Who can vote? All 36,000 voters in the East Naples Fire Control and Rescue District.

Questions about voting? Call the Collier Supervisor of Elections Office at 239-252-8450. Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election starts Oct. 27.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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