EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Three Black Forest residents and firefighters announced Thursday that they will run for a position on the Black Forest Fire Board.
Jayme McConnellogue, P.J. Langmaid and Rick Nearhoof hosted a campaign kick off event at R & R Coffee in Black Forest.
The three accused the board of wasting $50,000 on an investigation into Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey and not listening to its constituents.
McConnellogue, Langmaid and Nearhoof have a combined 60 years of fighting fires. McConnellogue and Langmaid live in Black Forest and work for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Nearhoof also lives in Black Forest and retired from CSFD shortly after the Black Forest Fire.
"I want this community to feel heard," said McConnellogue. "There has been a gross misuse of funds and practices that have not fallen in line with the spirit of transparency."
"The three of us intend on restoring faith and service to the fire board," said Langmaid.
"I've seen too many mistakes from the majority of the board and it's leadership," said Nearhoof. "I will try to make the board accountable to its people."
El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn talked with the candidates at the event and said he supports all three.
Black Forest Fire Board member Rick McMorran also turned out to show his support.
"There are a lot of things I've been disappointed with, especially communication with the people we are supposed to represent," said McMorran.
Board member Walter Seelye is running for re-election. He said he would have liked to have seen money spent on the investigation used for mitigation and new equipment, but he said the investigation was necessary to get the facts.
He said if re-elected, he wants to continue to work on raising awareness about fire mitigation. He said the investigation focused on the past and it's time to move forward.
"How are we going to establish a really good working relationship with the sheriff's office and with the other departments around? This a concern right now so we are going to be working on that," said Seelye.
Board member Preston Cooper is also running. He was not available for an interview but said the following in an email:
"I'm excited to see that their are other neighbors who also want to dedicate their time and effort to the hard work involved in being a member of the Board. In the past 8 years I've helped implement many changes that have helped improve District operations and firefighter morale to the point were it is today; it's been a very rewarding experience overall.
"Normally Board elections are canceled due to a lack of sufficient candidates so this year I hope that we'll be able to involve many more residents in the process so they can learn much more about the fire service and their local fire department."
Board Chairman Ed Bracken is also running for re-election. KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted him to see if he wanted to talk about his campaign. He did not respond.
Candidates must turn in their self-nomination and acceptance forms by Feb. 28. People living the Black Forest Fire District will cast their vote May 6 through a mail-in ballot.