New fire board members aim to improve finances, morale

By From page A3 | November 09, 2012



Mark Brunton hopes that he and the two other new faces on the El Dorado County Fire Board will be able to turn the board’s financial troubles around.

“I thought it was a good election,” Brunton, a fire battalion chief with Cal Fire, said of his 12 percent win over incumbent Dennis Edwards. He said he hopes the “results will benefit the fire district, the three new seats work together well.” Brunton was voted in with Chris Swarbrick, who, along with Brunton, was backed by the local firefighter’s union, and Dennis Thomas, owner of Robinson’s Pharmacy in Placerville.

Brunton said, “We have looked at areas we need to cut” in finances, something the “current board has been doing in the eleventh hour.” He said he and the new members of the board have already begun “looking at a better model” to become more efficient.

Edwards said he is “fond of Mark, I think he’ll do a great job.” He said he is also “pleased the union did not get a majority vote. I’m happy with that.”

A fire captain at Sacramento Metro, Swarbrick said that he hopes to serve with “honesty and integrity” and that his “first order of business is to collectively work together with the board towards a common goal” of fixing the financial status. “We need to raise morale and work to restore the department,” he said.

Tom Mahach, who lost to Swarbrick after serving 12 years on the board, is still “committed to solving the problems with the fire board.” Mahach intends to attend meetings as a member of the community to “help to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Mike Dennis, the only union-backed incumbent who lost, to Thomas, agreed with the others. “Mark and Chris are very qualified,” he said. “My main concern is morale is horrible.” He, too, will stay active with the fire board, he said.

Thomas intends to get caught up on the financial matters and “dig in deep.” He said he is already in contact with the board staff and the union to do so. “We need a business plan,” he said. “One, three and five year plans.” Thomas said that the board needs a “good analysis on the year-to-date (earnings)” so that the can develop “a financially sound approach” to fixing the district.


Cole Mayer

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