The nonpartisan race features three incumbents, Jane Armstrong, Alan L. Smith and Arthur Smith, and a newcomer, Lisa Ann Bustichi. Each seek a four-year term on the five-person board.
Originally appointed to the board in November 2002 following the death of a board member, Armstrong served the remaining half term and was elected by voters twice, in 2004 and 2008.
She has a background as a taxpayer advocate and business owner.
Of her near-decade as a fire district director, Armstrong said she was proud to help sustain the district’s programs while maintaining its financial solvency.
“For the 10 years I’ve been on the board, we have had a balanced budget with no tax increases,” she said. “We cut board pay, and we have controlled pension costs.”
Moving forward, Armstrong said her goals include maintaining existing fire safety programs, advanced life-support training, staff levels and neighborhood outreach about disaster awareness and preparation. She said she is also committed to working with unions to keep the district in the black.
“I’m planning on working really hard toward maintaining the financial soundness of the district,” she said. “We have had an amazing amount of cooperation with the unions.”
Lisa Ann Bustichi
As the newcomer in the fire district race, Bustichi, a 41-year Scotts Valley resident, offers a combination of business organizational skills and years of experience in community service groups.
“For many years, I’ve had a desire to do this,” she said.
Bustichi, cousin to former Scotts Valley Mayor Dene Bustichi, said if she was elected to the board, she would strive to ensure district tax dollars are spent wisely and that the budget is balanced.
She said her run for a seat on the board is motivated partially by her father’s history as a board member and partially by her experience working alongside city emergency officials as chief of Seagate’s emergency response team.
Bustichi said that as a member of the board, she would work to expand the district’s outreach efforts to the community to see that all are prepared in the event of a natural disaster.
“We want to keep our community a safe place,” she said.
Bustichi is a past president of the Scotts Valley Host Lions Club and Santa Cruz County Lions Eye Fund and is a member of Scotts Valley’s park advocacy committee.
Alan L. Smith
A board member since 2004, Smith has served twice as the board’s president and is seeking a third term.
He stressed the need for continuity in the district’s efforts to balance fiscal solvency with carrying out its duty.
“My goal is to maintain the quality of services that we have always had as far as fire prevention and emergency response in this district,” he said. “We have always done a good job, and it’s important we maintain it.”
The candidate highlighted his background as a business consultant as an important part of the ability he would contribute to the board.
“These next four years are going to require that we have some experienced businesspeople to keep a watchful eye on the revenue,” he said. “Having served on the board for some time now, my presence on the board provides the needed continuity.”
Smith added that his proudest achievement during his previous terms was serving “on the committee that did a lot of the work to identify, recruit and hire the best fire chief in the state.”
The district’s board hired Dan Grebil this year to replace Mike McMurry, who retired in March.
A board member since 1998, Smith is seeking a fourth term on the board, with a stated goal of maintaining services while weathering decreases in the property tax revenue that funds the fire district.
Smith’s background includes 34 years as a firefighter and 25 years managing a $5.4 million budget as the finance director for the nonprofit CDF Firefighters. He has also served on the board’s finance committee nearly eight years.
He said that if re-elected, he would use his experience to preserve as many district services as possible and maintain the highest feasible staff levels while keeping the ledger in the black.
“(Property tax revenue) increases aren’t keeping up with inflation,” he said, adding that the challenge was in “maintaining levels of service both (financially) and on the fire side.”