Engel, Steely, Conn win seats on Clements fire board
By Sara Cardine
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
David Riggs and incumbent Richard A. Haas won seats on the Galt Fire District board Tuesday.
In Clements, Ray Engel, Don Steely and Bill Conn were elected to the three seats available on the Clements Fire District board.
With all 17 county precincts reporting, Riggs received 3,078 votes (31.6 percent) for the Galt fire board. Haas was second with 2,654 votes (27.3 percent) followed by Barry Flores with 2,550 votes (26.2 percent) and Edwin Butler with 1,451 votes (14.9 percent).
Joseph Corey decided not to seek re-election and Bill Dufur, who died Oct. 21, had chosen not to run for a third term due to his health condition.
The Galt Fire Protection District covers 56 square miles within Galt and surrounding rural areas to the north, west and east.
Butler, a retired fire engineer who filed as a candidate for the race, could not be reached earlier for a profile interview.
Flores, a second-generation firefighter, has lived in Galt for 22 years though he currently works as a captain for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District and the ROP fire tech coordinator for the Sacramento County Office of Education.
Flores identified growth as a major issue in the district, and said that getting new staff and new equipment should be priorities for board members.
Haas, who was running for a second term in the district, has 19 years experience working in fire service.
Currently working at the Elk Grove Fire Department, Haas has lived in Galt for 15 years.
Like Flores, Haas agreed that the district should get more staff members, and said he'd like to see more apprenticeships in the department to meet that need.
In Clements, with all four precincts tallied, unofficial results show Engel received 618 votes (31.3 percent), followed by Steely with 585 votes (29.6 percent), Conn with 519 votes (26.3 percent) and Robert Buchwalter with 254 votes (12.9 percent).
The Clements Fire District covers 120 square miles and runs from Calaveras and Amador counties in the east to Sacramento County in the north.
Buchwalter, who ran for the same seat unsuccessfully in 2002, has lived in the area for 17 years and cites his 20-year tenure with the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department as giving him law enforcement experience required for a seat on the board.
His opponent, Conn, has lived in Clements for 10 years and said he hopes to see the volunteer-based department continue to serve the community,
A semi-retired construction manager who served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1958, Conn identified growth as an issue in the district and said he would like to see more staff and more equipment.
Engel, who was going for a second term on the board, was a Clements firefighter for 27 years and acted as chief for 24 of those years before retiring.
In 1991, he became the district's first full-time employee.
He said maintaining a balanced budget was a challenge of the Clements district then and now.
A life-long resident of Clements, Steely used to be a firefighter in the 1960s and is seeking a second term.
He identified stable tax rates as a district priority and said it was important to maintain a good training program while keeping spending down.
Contact reporter Sara Cardine at email@example.com.