Two challengers are gunning for long-time incumbent Jim Kellar’s commissioner seat for Cowlitz Fire Protection District 1. Will voters value a fresh face or an experienced one?
Kellar has been a commissioner for the Woodland-area fire district since 1990. He is quietly confident about his chances of making it through the “top two” Aug. 1 primary and move on to the November general election. He cites his years of experience.
“I’m going on 27 years, and I have a reputation,” Kellar said. “I’m known in the community. ... I’ve gone to the point where I’ve gone to so many meetings, so I learn about the procedures and all the necessary rules for complying with the state.”
One of Kellar’s competitors, Dean Boon, is campaigning on an opposite platform: A younger commissioner for a younger generation of Woodland residents.
“Jim’s a really great guy. I enjoy him,” said Boon, 41. “I think just the younger generation would be better than what Jim would be. The generation that can see the future, and has none of the good ‘ol boy stuff. New blood.”
The third primary candidate, Tiffany Palmer, did not respond to multiple requests from The Daily News for an interview.
Boon made it clear that his platform of “new” would be very focused on the Fire District 1’s future. If elected, he said he would push for purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as updating buildings with more energy-efficient lighting and heating. He said the new equipment would be paid for by state grants.
Boon also wants to keep the public informed about burn alerts or other fire district activities through an active social media presence.
Boon, clearly enthusiastic about his plans for the fire district, said thinking forward is key for him.
“I’ve always been more of a future guy, looking ahead,” he said.
“That’s where we’re going, the future. You used to put a letter in the mailbox, then it was faxes, and now it’s emailing, and tweeting.”
Meanwhile, Kellar said his former career as a teacher for Woodland Middle School means that he has a personal connection with many of the people he works with at the fire district.
“Several of those volunteers and the chief are former students of mine,” he said. “In fact, the secretary is too. I enjoy continuing (to work here), because I knew those guys years ago, and I want to continue to be a part of their life.”
Kellar also mentioned that his 27 years of experience have helped him understand all the ins and outs of firefighting due to the many meetings he’s attended. He also said he wants to continue to support the district’s 35 volunteers and its fire chief, Eric Dehning.
Both candidates have well-rounded lives outside of their campaigns.
Kellar plays trombone for the Vancouver Orchestra, and performs 30 to 35 concerts with the group each year.
Meanwhile, when Boon isn’t at his job at Woodland’s county diking district, he enjoys camping with his wife and three kids, restoring antique tractors, and making hay.
“Things are running great with the fire department, don’t get me wrong there, but the newer technology, trying to advance into that, (is) my main focus,” Boon said.