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Fire board candidates offer voter choices for seat

October 24, 2012
By BOB PETCHER, , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Three men. One choice.

On Nov. 6, seat #4 for the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District Board of Commissioners will come down to one incumbent and two challengers in the general election.

Incumbent John Scanlon will face off against Beach residents John Pohland and Bryan Raymond for the right to represent the independent special district. In the other open seat, incumbent Betty Goodacre is running unopposed for seat #2.

Here is some background information on each candidate followed by their reasons for running, qualifications possessed and future goals or needed changes if any. Responses were presented via email.

Scanlon, who has served two terms on the fire board and is seeking a third, is a New Jersey native that moved to Southwest Florida in 1989 with his wife, Sally, of 33 years and two sons. He became a Beach resident in 1996 and is now a proud grandparent.

Since moving to the area, Scanlon has worked in the hospitality field and for Lee County EMS, the latter from 2000 to 2009. In May 2012, he acquired Rudy's Treasure Chest on the Beach Pier where he rents and sells fishing poles, bait and tackle and various beach-type souvenirs.

Pohland, who has been active on many boards and committees in Lee County, moved to Fort Myers Beach from Milwaukee in 2004 and has owned property on Estero Island since 2003. He has been married to his wife, Margo, since 1975, has two children and two grandchildren.

Pohland, who has a private pilot's license, is currently a member of the Public Safety Committee, Lee County Citizens Advisory Committee, Community Emergency Resources Team (group leader) and Air Intrusion Relief along with being the Town's Transportation Mitigation advisor. He has 23 years experience as president of Pohland Enterprises, Inc., where duties included marketing, sales, customer service, human resources and negotiating contracts.

Raymond hails from New Hampshire and moved down to the Beach 12 years ago after acquiring a BA degree in Business.

Raymond is the owner of the 24/7 gymnasium called Fort Myers Fitness and has been a personal trainer for many in the area. Six years ago, he began an endeavor on Fort Myers Beach to organized and run a bench press contest to raise funds and obtain toys for needy children and underprivileged schools to benefit communities in the area. He continues that fundraising project at his gymnasium on a yearly basis.

Scanlon has eight years of experience in office and stated he has demonstrated proven leadership while being fiscally responsible and dedicated. The positive accomplishments that he is proud to have supported and been a part of during his tenure include the construction of two fire stations, establishing an employee pay matrix as well as new, fiscally sound accounting policies and the appointment of a new fire chief.

"During our recessionary times it's important to note that I have never supported the closing of any fire station and have always supported and maintained the level of service this District has a history of providing to the residents and visitors to Fort Myers Beach in their time of need," Scanlon wrote. "Right now I believe our fire district is on the road to economic recovery, with the long overdue implementation of our new pay matrix to ensure firefighter salaries never stress the District to the point of economic collapse again."

Pohland stated he has been on many previous different boards -some large and some small. He has served on seven juries and was selected as jury foreman on three of them. His business experience makes him qualified.

"I am experienced in Roberts Rules of Order. My business success has shown my resolve. I ran the business and brought legal cases to court as representative of my company five times. Some I won, while some I lost," he wrote. "Being president of the company, I have hired, fired, and been a rehabilitation counselor, salesperson and mediator, while buying, selling and marketing. By the end of the day there is always more to be done. Some gets done and some falls by the wayside. Prioritizing is the name of the game.

"My education, life experiences, and business acumen is what I have to bring to this position. Since I am retired, I see no reason why I cannot be present at the meetings."

Raymond stated he decided to run for the FMB Board of Fire Commissioners because he wanted to become more involved in the Town, specifically the Fire District.

Prior to his interest in the Beach Fire District and attending fire board meetings, Raymond referenced a long blood line in the firefighter profession.

"I have been interested in fire departments since an early age," he said. "I come from a fire family where my grandfather was a fire chief, my uncle currently is a chief and a cousin is a fireman."

Family ties and a business sense drew him to seek candidacy and a business background makes him qualified, he says.

"My qualifications stem from my personal background with family interests as well as my educational background and being a business owner. I believe that the FMB Board of Fire Commissioners needs to be led with a business approach," Raymond said.

Pohland stated he is running for fire commission seat #4 because a change is needed.

"The board (needs to) have more commissioners with the taxpayers' best interests at mind," he said. "The commission must reduce costs, reduce overtime, and/or reduce staffing. One of the ways to reduce costs would be by not sending a fire truck to every medical emergency. This is unnecessary, ridiculous and expensive."

Raymond believes the fire department should be run as a business before each fiscal year begins. Communication is needed.

"I would like to see a business approach taken for the budget process," he said. "I would also like to see a better working relationship with the taxpapers, town and the department. This would involve communication for all parties."

Scanlon listed financial goals for the future as a main priority if re-elected.

"As our economy slowly gets better I would very much like to see our millage rate drop accordingly. We should be sure to never have to dip into our reserves for normal everyday operating expenses," he said. "I would like to continue to budget accordingly for new rolling equipment that we will need in the upcoming years.

Scanlon has a message for the voters why a third term for him is important.

"With your continued support, I am seeking to represent you, the taxpayer, not the Union," he said. "I would like to continue my work to ensure the highest level of fire and emergency medical services are provided to you and your family in the most efficient and fiscally responsible means possible."

Next week: A story on the Beach Library candidates.



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