North Aurora firefighters support incumbents

Published3/18/2009 3:56 PM

The North Aurora Firefighters Association has formed a political action committee and endorsed all five sitting trustees of the North Aurora and Countryside Fire Protection District.

"It doesn't surprise me," said candidate Stephen Gaspardo, who is not one of them. "What would you put in the paper about your bosses?"


Gaspardo, a North Aurora resident, organized the petition drive to have a referendum in 2008 on changing from an appointed to an elected board. Until now, trustees were appointed by the Kane County Board chairman.

On its Web site,, NAFA calls Gaspardo "a former disgruntled employee who left on less than friendly terms." Gaspardo was a part-time firefighter for the district for 14 years.

It endorses present trustees Gerald Auchstetter, Richard Brackett, Alfred Coppes, Kevin Fatten and Richard Haen.

"You don't see the North Aurora policeman's association endorsing any one of the village president or trustee (candidates)," Gaspardo said of the appropriateness of the endorsement.

The firefighters association is not a union. It is known primarily for its charity work, raising money for causes around town, as well as fundraising for extras such as exercise equipment for firefighters.

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Gaspardo acknowledges "we didn't part under the greatest of terms," and that is what has led to his efforts.

"I don't consider myself a politician, but I consider myself a pretty quick study. Any time you are in an indefensible position, you want to talk about anything but the issue. I think that is what is going on here," he said of the endorsement and criticism of him and two other candidates, Dale Steward and Norman Ruth. The Web site states: "It is easy to understand that we do not trust that their true interests are in making the department better as much as it is in getting back at certain employees."

Gaspardo contends there has been a lack of transparency on the board's part as far as detailing the district's finances, emergency response times and other data. He would also like to explore the idea of having the village of North Aurora take over the fire district, to streamline emergency public service to voters - but only if it does not impact taxes.

He also criticized the board, which was made up of three members for years, for increasing its size to five people after the February 2008 referendum that called for electing trustees.

Haen has served since 1974, Brackett since 1990 and Auchstetter since 1993. Coppes and Fatten were appointed last year.

Gaspardo said that he, Steward and Ruth have decided, since voters must elect five people, to endorse Auchstetter and Fatten for re-election.

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