By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
The local fire district wasted no time in filling the open seat on their board.
The four members of the North County Fire & Medical District governing body met to interview candidates and selected Diane Holloway Cheney, Ph.D., to fill the open governing board seat at a March 30 special meeting at the district office, 18818 N. Spanish Garden Drive, Sun City West.
Following an executive session, during which the members interviewed three candidates, the governing board emerged and promptly decided the matter. The other candidates considered were Richard Ciesla and Douglas Edward.
“We discussed the vacancy on the board and interviewed the three candidates,” said David Wilson, governing board chairman, after the 90-minute private meeting.
Board member Dawn Miller said the district was fortunate to attract three highly qualified candidates to consider.
“We have three really strong candidates,” said Ms. Miller. “They all bring different life and professional experience.”
For board member Dick Cherry, community relations seemed a key criterion in making his decision.
“One of the concerns I have for the candidate we choose is, how will they be accepted by the community?” he said. Shortly following his comments, Mr. Cherry formally moved to nominate to fill the open seat. The nomination was seconded by board member Russell Smith and adopted unanimously.
Mr. Wilson clarified the difficulty the board faced in making its decision, since all three candidates possessed extensive and unique qualifications for the position.
Mr. Edward had been chairman of the Wittmann Fire District board prior to its merger with the Sun City Fire District last October, which formed NCFMD. He was not available to attend the meeting, but was interviewed by phone during the executive session.
Mr. Ciesla has more than 30 years of experience in fire service, building construction, hazardous materials, and arson investigation. He also served previously as a fire chief in Massachusetts, which impressed Mr. Wilson.
“I’m a bit intimidated as a matter of fact,” said Mr. Wilson. “Be assured we gave consideration to each candidate.”
The chosen candidate, Ms. Cheney, holds a doctorate in psychology, as well as undergraduate degrees in nursing and social work. Her career has included 25 years in psychiatric nursing, counseling, management consulting and training.
Since moving to Sun City West in 1992, she has been a prolific author on a variety of topics, as well as a community advocate and activist. She served previously on the Sun City West Fire District board (2001-2005) and has served on its pension board since 2005. She has served on the board at Recreation Centers of Sun City West and was chairwoman of its Long Range Planning Committee. She is also a current board member at Our Neighborhood Network, an area service organization.
Following the vote, Ms. Cheney expressed gratitude for being selected to fill the seat which has 1.5 years left on its term.
“Thank you very much,” she said.
The board, now in full force, next meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 18 at the NCFMD district office. At that meeting, the panel will continue the budget process with an update on the annual budget and operational plan, a review of year-end projections, and a presentation of the fiscal year 2017-2018 Capital Improvement Plan. NCFMD meetings are open to the public.