Firefighter answers: Susan Conniry

What inspired you to run for this position?

The people. Those I have represented for four years. Working in collaboration with the citizens to understand their needs, we have begun to make some important changes. With an increased population, changing demographics, it will be an honor to serve younger families and professionals as well as our retired population. Their needs, of course, are basically the same. Spend their money wisely and provide for their health and safety.

List three goals you most want to accomplish as a public official:

Managed growth. Environmentally sound economic development. Increased public safety options.

How do you feel about the current service being provided by the first responders in Ocean Shores (fire/police)?

Your service is exemplary. Honored by our citizens. Appreciated by our council. But, you are understaffed.

Are you in favor of bringing in private, for-profit companies to respond to medical emergencies within the city of Ocean Shores?

No.

What I would like to see is a private ambulance company that can cover for simple transports. To doctor’s appointments, etc. Given the new police reform legislation, you will need additional help and we should hire a behavioral health specialist or have a nurse practitioner working with you.

What is your position on public unions and collective bargaining?

Unions have always proved effective in terms of representing their members. As a council member we are not part of actively working with you on collective bargaining, although as a whole we are asked for our input on your contracts. The process has been a positive one for you and the city as the contracts appear to be satisfactory for all.

If elected, will you meet and confer with the leadership of IAFF Local 2109 in a timely manner when requested?

Yes.

If elected, would you support the careers of our members and fight to prevent loss of jobs, wages and benefits?

Yes.

As an elected member of the governing board for Lakeside Fire Protection District, we worked closely with the Union. I started a monthly conversation with the Fire Chief, so those on the floor could attend and were current on our financial and operational situations. When we started our Logistical Volunteer Unit of over 55 citizens, we began our conversation with the union rep to be sure the program met everyone’s desires and needs. That program is successful and recognized across Southern California

Demands on the Ocean Shores Fire Department continue to increase.

Population growth, Covid-19, increased tourism and an aging population increase the demands placed on our fire department.

In 2017 the city paid for a third-party study to inform us on adequate staffing for our call volume. At that time, they informed us that we would need as many as 30 line personnel.

Since then, our call volume has increased, the ability of our local hospital has decreased, and we have only added one additional position. We currently have 20 line personnel.

How do you plan to use your position to help meet the increasing demands on the fire department?

Budget discussions next year will be the time we as a council will discuss the needs of the department. It is important that we receive continued updates on the increase in the calls, the issues when there are multiple

calls and how citizens can help by speaking at council about the increased need to add additional staff.

Will you support the staffing model recommended to the city by the third party study group?

Yes.

To the extent that the citizens support the increased staffing and the council in the majority agrees. Priorities must be established early on. The people of this city deserve to know they can have a fully staffed department. But they just also understand that other needs may not receive the funding and those projects will have to wait. In all our surveys, the citizens state their number one priory is public safety. I will always honor their wishes.

Currently, our south-end fire station is not staffed. This has created an increased risk — longer response times —and cost to many members of this community due to a change in ISO rating and insurance rates.

Do you support the required additional cost in infrastructure and increased staffing to adequately respond from the south station?

Yes.

I have asked repeatedly why this has not returned to council for approval. There was a suggestion of installing a modular unit and I think the fire chief is still looking at the costs.

If endorsed by IAFF Local 2109, how do you plan on utilizing our endorsement? (e.g. Financial, name association, campaign volunteers, etc.)

Unclear of the question, but I will be proud to accept your endorsement. Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions.

Please provide any additional comments or statements to help us consider you for our endorsement.

As an elected member of the governing board for Lakeside Fire Protection District, I worked alongside Local 4488 as we managed our budget to remain an independent district. It was an honor to serve. A great sadness when I was forced to leave my hometown. A joy that I was instrumental in keeping the district independent and not another branch of Cal Fire. As an elected member of the council, under the strong mayor form of government, we are not allowed the same kind of working relationship I was used to with my fire personnel in Lakeside. Kept from getting to know you on a personal basis is a sadness for me. Once a part of a fire/medical family, one never loses that sense of family. I would hope that perhaps a change in the form of government might allow council members to be more interactive with you. It would make a difference, in my opinion, and would be most welcomed by the citizens that we both serve.

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