Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Volunteer Fire Fighters Claim Victory on Ambulance Fee

The Volunteer Fire Fighters have sent out the following press release celebrating the success of their endorsed candidates and claiming victory in electing enough of them to repeal the ambulance fee. Following is their statement from earlier today.

Candidates Endorsed by MCVFRA Win Big in September Primaries

Rockville, MD.—Eleven of the 13 candidates endorsed by the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association were winners in the September 14, 2010 primary elections, with another race too close to call. "The success of our candidates is not surprising given how much voters care about the County's fire-rescue system, including the important role played by the more than 2,000 active in our County," said Marcine D. Goodloe, the Association's president. "We are also pleased the candidates that came out forcefully against ambulance fees and have been very supportive of volunteers were so successful," Goodloe added.

During the campaign, Craig Rice, the winner in the District 2 Democratic primary, pledged to oppose ambulance fees if elected. “I oppose the ambulance fee, would have opposed it on the Council, have signed a petition to send it to referendum, and will vote to repeal it in November” wrote Craig Rice in the Association’s questionnaire. Rice fills the seat of the retiring Mike Knapp, an ambulance fee supporter. Hans Riemer, the successful challenger for one of the four at-large Council seats, also came out forcefully against ambulance fees during the campaign. “A resident who needs to call an ambulance clearly is in a difficult situation and the County should not pass fees directly on to these individuals. Passing these fees directly on to non-residents is wrong for the same reason, and because many of these callers work in Montgomery County and support our economy. Revenue recovery passed directly to patients is an idea I cannot support” wrote Hans Riemer in the Association’s questionnaire.

Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Nancy Navarro, and Valerie Ervin – all of whom oppose ambulance fees -- ran unopposed or, in Berliner's race, won handily by a very wide margin. Councilmember Andrews has also pledged to submit legislation to repeal the ambulance fee if the Association’s suit fails in court. "We deeply appreciate their past support and look forward to supporting them in the November elections," said Goodloe.

If these candidates are successful in November, six of the nine County Councilmembers will be on record as opposing ambulance fees.

The full results of the candidates endorsed by MCVFRA:

Council District 1: Roger Berliner (Won)
Council District 2: Craig Rice (Won)
Council District 3: Phil Andrews (Won)
Council District 4: Nancy Navarro (Won)
Council District 5: Valerie Ervin (Won)
Council At-Large: Hans Riemer (Won)
District 14 Senate: Rona Kramer (Too close to call))
District 14 House: Anne Kaiser (Won); Craig Zucker (Won); Bo Newsome (Lost) District 17 Senate: Jennie Forehand (Won)
District 19 Senate: Roger Manno (Won)
District 19 House: Ben Kramer (Won)

In making its endorsements, MCVFRA looked at the candidates' positions on issues of importance to MCVFRA members, including their stands on providing adequate funding and support to maintain and improve the County's fire-rescue system, strengthening the partnership between the County and the 19 community-based volunteer fire-rescue departments, and fostering the role of volunteers in the fire-rescue service. MCVFRA also looked closely at the candidates' position on the imposition of ambulance fees, which MCVFRA strongly opposes.

For the first time, the volunteers created the Volunteer Fire Helmet Ballot which is a custom, die-cut, red fire helmet listing all the candidates the volunteer’s support that was widely received and praised by both the public at large and candidates. These ballots were passed out weeks before the election as well as at many of the polls on Election Day. “We are very pleased at the reception our Volunteer Fire Helmet Ballot received. The public supports their volunteer fire and rescue providers and care about our issues. They overwhelmingly supported our candidates” said Eric N. Bernard, executive director of the MCVRA. “The public knows that we are there protecting them in many ways – not just when the 911 call comes in” he added.