East Grand Fire election news: A Q&A with Chief Todd Holzwarth & Office Manager Kristen Rybij | SkyHiNews.com

East Grand Fire election news: A Q&A with Chief Todd Holzwarth & Office Manager Kristen Rybij

Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth explains his role at the district and in the election process

Meg Soyars

Sky-Hi News: How long have you been the Fire Chief for East Grand, and what was your experience in the fire department before?

I was appointed acting chief May 1995 and fire chief sometime that next year, so somewhere around 27 years. I was a volunteer assistant chief prior to that and served three previous full-time fire chiefs. I joined East Grand Fire Protection District (EGFPD) as a volunteer firefighter in July 1974 with no fire service experience, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1980 and have worked in our family business since 1974. I have emergency services experience with the Civil Air Patrol (a civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force) as a communicator (radio operator), and land search team member.

What are your main roles as Fire Chief?

Under the general direction of the board of directors, The Fire Chief is the Chief Executive Officer of the EGFPD. I am responsible for managing the EGFPD and its staff, including administration, training, operations and fire prevention.

What is the most rewarding part of being a mentor/leader for firefighters?

It is very rewarding, and enjoyable, to watch new firefighters come on and help them “figure it out” by providing examples and telling stories to help them understand what we do. We need smart people that can work through a problem and solve it and I hope that I provide that opportunity for them. We ask so much of our volunteers and to watch them successfully deal with a malfunctioning carbon monoxide detector at 3 a.m., firefighting during the East Troublesome blowup and extricating patients from a two-vehicle head-on collision is unbelievably satisfying. We do that by teaching skills, training with the equipment and most important — developing the experience and judgment to accomplish these feats.

What will your duties be during the election process?

Mostly stay out of the way! Otherwise, I will help ensure that all goes smoothly and keep hiccups to a minimum.

Can you describe the election process for readers?

As a Title 32 Special District our process is very similar to any other election just a little bit simpler. We elect five directors to the board on an alternating three, then two, schedule every two years. They are elected to four-year terms. There is a simple petitioning process to get on the ballot. We have canceled our elections for the last several cycles, so it is exciting to have an election. We had to dig the ballot boxes out of storage! On Tuesday, May 3 the polling place at our Headquarters Station will open at 7 a.m. with voting available until 7 p.m.


The District’s office manager Kristen Rybij explains how elections work and why they are important.

Sky-Hi: What is your main role at East Grand Fire?

As the District’s Chief Financial Officer , I have wide-ranging responsibilities, such as creating/maintaining our annual budget, balancing all our bank and investment accounts, managing our Fire Impact Fee operations, responding to our annual audit, executing payroll, and managing all Accounts Payable & Receivable. I am the District’s Human Resource Manager for Staff, Volunteers, and Pensioners. I serve as Records Custodian, Administrative Assistant to our Fire Prevention Bureau, Website Technician, Public Information Officer, Social Media Manager, Election Official, Board Meeting Planner, and Front Desk Receptionist. Other times, I can be found playing District Editor, Paralegal, IT Assistant, Meal Planner, and Peer Support member.

What will your duties be during the election process?

I will manage all facets of this election from start to finish. My duties vary widely, and although discussing election law has become my new favorite hobby, I will not bore you all with the minutia of my election tasks. The important thing for everyone to know is that I promise to run this election to the absolute best of my ability, with the utmost integrity. I bring a bit of experience gleaned from running our (successful) 2019 TABOR / Revenue Stabilization Measure, but there is still much to learn to ensure a successful and legal execution of this election. This is our first Polling Place Election in 16 years! If you wish to know any details regarding my duties, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 970-726-5824, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Can you describe the election process for readers?

There are three seats up for election and four candidates running for those seats. We are a Special District holding a Board of Director’s Polling Place Election. Much of the voting will take place in-person at East Grand Fire Headquarters. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday May 3. Upon arrival, the Elector will sign a self-affirmation form, their voter eligibility will be verified, and they will be handed a paper ballot. The Elector will proceed to a private voting booth to cast their vote. The voted ballot will then be inserted into a secure ballot box. Once the polls close, the Election Judges will remove all the cast and absentee ballots from the box to tally the votes. Once completed, the unofficial results will be posted that night at the polling place for public view. During the week of May 12-17, the appointed Canvass Board will review and officially certify the results. The new Directors will be sworn into office at the next meeting of the EGFPD Board of Directors. Eligible Electors who cannot make it in person to vote may apply for an Absentee Ballot until the close of business, Tuesday April 26th. Applications can be picked up at East Grand Fire Headquarters or downloaded from our website at EastGrandFire.com.

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a six-part series about the East Grand Fire Protection District’s board election.

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