Q & A with Kevin Gerrity
What, in your professional and personal experiences, distinguishes you from your opponents and makes you the best candidate for Fire Commissioner?
I am a lifelong fire service professional. I first entered the US Air Force Fire Training School in 1975. I spent 23 years as a firefighter in Cleveland, including the last 6 1/2 years of my career as the Fire Chief for one of America’s major cities. I have served on the Golden Gate and Greater Naples Fire Commissions since 2009.
What are the top issues and/or unique challenges facing this district? If elected, what specific actions would you propose to address these issues/challenges?
Dealing with growth is the most difficult challenge facing the district. The district pays lip service to strategic planning, but continues to increase operations without a plan and with no regard for financial impact. It is common at meetings for the commission to approve significant expenditures, even when the career professionals in the district urge restraint and caution. Rather than adopting a strategic plan that responsibly manages growth, the commission reacts (and overreacts) to whims.
Extreme weather and sea level rise are increasing the need for disaster response services while at the same time adding to the risks first responders face. How should this be addressed? What, if any, additional funding is needed?
The Greater Naples Fire District encompasses one of the most significant urban- wildland interface areas in the United States. As our district continues to grow, this problem will only be exacerbated. As the largest independent fire district in Florida, we need to build relationships with local, county, state and federal partners to develop a plan for shared responsibilities in this interface area.
How will your district maintain high quality service 24/7 within proposed funding levels for 2023 and beyond?
They are doing so by proposing reserve spending, which I adamantly oppose during these financial times. The district has received significant budget increases over recent years, and should be restricting itself to live within current fiscal constraints and increasing reserves for the inevitable rainy day. Some within the district are pushing for a tax increase. I am opposed to any millage increase