The Flathead County Election Office will soon mail ballots to registered voters in our fire district to elect candidates to our Board of Trustees. May 8th is the election deadline. If you’re not a registered voter and want to vote, you can be a “late registrant,” if you go to the Flathead County Election Department (40 11th Street West, Suite 230, Kalispell, MT 59901) Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to get the ballot in person before the deadline.
This is the first time in many years that there are more candidates than seats on the board. In recent years, candidates ran uncontested and were simply “elected by acclamation” or appointed to the seat by Flathead County Commissioners. The positions are volunteer; trustees do not get paid for their time and effort.
The fire chief is responsible for managing day-to-day operations and answers to the trustees. Trustees are responsible for governing the fire district— meaning they implement rules and practices to ensure accountability, fairness, and transparency with the district’s employees, volunteers, people needing the district’s services, and other government agencies. For example, they set the annual budget, which is primarily funded by property tax levies, and monitor spending. The trustees answer to the district’s voters through elections.
Three people are running for two available seats. Trustee-Secretary Kelly Ritterbush’s seat is open, because she chose not to run for re-election. Trustee Richard “Dick” Ramos’s term expires this year; he is running for re-election. In addition to Ramos, the other two candidates are Shirley Webster and Christine “Chris” Sampley. Here is information to let you know more about the candidates:
- Moved to Montana from Alaska in 2015
- Currently employed as a marriage & family therapist, was an adjunct professor of psychology (university and community college), as well as a K-12 social skills teacher and mental health counselor
- Community involvement: Board Secretary for Purpose Church in Kalispell and served on State of Alaska Board of Examiners
- Statement: “I know the need and gift of giving back to one’s community. I fully understand the essential role of serving as a board member and the responsibility of exercising critical business judgement in doing what is best for the organization.”
Christine “Chris” Sampley
- Moved to Montana from Washington State in 2017
- Retired elementary school principal and educator
- Community involvement: Marion Fire Auxiliary and served on Washington State School Review Board
- Statement: “I look forward to giving back to my community…If elected to the Board of Trustees, I will do everything I can to support our fire department in whatever capacity they feel appropriate.”
Richard “Dick” Ramos
- Moved to Montana from California in 2002
- Currently employed by Flathead Industries helping clients with disabilities; and was a commercial property realtor
- Community involvement: Kalispell Rotary Club, Ashley Lake Land Use Advisory Committee, and a past president of South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
- Statement: “I bring an insight to Marion Fire District with my past experience of community involvement.”
Please, vote and return your ballot in time. Voting isn’t just a right, it’s a civic responsibility.
Have questions about the Board of Trustees? The trustees regularly hold business meetings, which are open to the public, at 5 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month (unless otherwise posted) in the Marion Community Center.