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Article updated: 3/29/2013 9:50 PM

Bartlett fire board candidates discuss district's needs, improvements

By Kimberly Pohl

None of the candidates running for Bartlett Fire Protection District trustee have major concerns with how the board is operating, though they don't all agree on how and where improvements can be made.

Incumbent Jim McCarthy and challengers Patti Hanson and Jay Langfelder are vying for two 6-year terms. Trustee Broc Montgomery isn't running for re-election. Both seats up this election cycle are allocated for DuPage County residents, though Cook County voters also cast a ballot.

McCarthy, an institutional investment adviser, said the fire district made great strides in his first term, improving emergency response times and being among only three districts in the state to win a coveted financial transparency award. The fire district also will soon start a $2.4 million renovation to its station at 501 Struckman Blvd.

"The things we've done as a board over the past six years have moved the district forward considerably from a financial and management perspective," McCarthy, 55, said. "I'd like to see that progress continue, and there are always ways to better services."

McCarthy said he wants to keep taxes low, adding that the fire district has the third-lowest tax rate of 16 surrounding districts. He said the board also has focused more on long-term planning, establishing a capital replacement fund. Eight years ago, he said, trustees were investigating leasing equipment due to a lack of available cash.

Hanson, a real estate broker who ran unsuccessfully two years ago, said it's time to add female perspective to the all-male board. She said her priorities are to ensure fiscal responsibility, to implement term limits and to review ambulance fees.

"If an ambulance is called to my home, it could be the worst day of my life," Hanson, 62, said. "Then I might get a bill for $800 or $1,200, and the last thing I want to see is a bill from a taxing body (I already pay taxes to)."

Hanson said she hasn't attended a board meeting since the last election but has spoken with Chief Michael Falese about numerous matters.

Although she describes the district as "top-notch," she wants firefighters to increase their visibility in the community. Hanson also said she's willing to meet and speak with residents.

Langfelder, an insurance agent, said he was raised in a family that values public service. His father was mayor and streets commissioner of Springfield, one brother is a county recorder of deeds and another brother is a 28-year fire department veteran.

"I've been very involved in the community and have a passion to serve the public," Langfelder, 48, said. "I think my background in the insurance industry complements an office in public safety."

Langfelder lauded operations, saying he is satisfied with response times, the district's professionalism and the board's relationship with Falese. He said the district has begun to take positive steps toward improving communication with the public, but would like to see an expanded website, a bigger social media presence and more public education campaigns.

To see complete coverage of all the suburban races, including candidate profiles, endorsements and news analysis, go to dailyherald.com.

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