Richard Gale, photo Richard Gale

Richard Gale, 34, is running for a term on the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection Board for position 3 against incumbent Terry Lewis

“I'm running because I got a lot of feedback saying that I should from multiple firefighters and other members of the board,” Gale said in an interview with the Gales Creek Journal. 

Lewis did not respond to an interview request.

“I’m a small business owner, I’ve been out here my entire life, and have seen how things have operated in the past,” Gale said. 

Gale owns Gales Creek Towing, and lives in Gales Creek. 

Gale said that he would like to see response time to emergencies improved and bring more resources to serve the community. 

Gale said he’s in favor — under the right conditions — of a merger or consolidation between most western Washington County fire agencies. 

The idea of bringing local fire agencies together is not new; Forest Grove Fire & Rescue has provided services to Gales Creek and the other communities in the Forest Grove Rural Fire Protection District for decades, and all of the local agencies have various agreements in place to cooperate on emergency matters.

Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Gaston fire departments share a fire chief already. 

Banks Fire District has opted out of any merger potential for the time being. 

Gale said he believes a merging of fire departments and districts could benefit the local community, increase the availability of volunteers, and keep the Gales Creek Fire Station and other rural fire stations staffed.

Gale has neither endorsed any candidates this election cycle or received any from local elected officials. 

He opted to run against Terry Lewis rather than Cleo Howell because he believed his chances of winning election to the board were better. 

“Cleo Howell is a big name in this community and I’m just getting started,” he said. 

Gale cited his work with the Gales Creek Tow company as an influence in his decision to run for the board. 

“I see first hand what response times and resources can do or not do,” he said. 

Gale placed an emphasis on increasing staffing levels in rural stations to full-time, and believes it could cut response times to emergencies by more than half. 

“I’m not big on spending money unless it’s absolutely needed,” Gale said. “I’m very conservative in that regard.”

The special district election will end May 18 at 8 p.m.; it is too late to mail a ballot, but voters can visit a 24-hour ballot drop box on Pacific Ave. in front of the Forest Grove City Library, in the driveway of the Banks Public Library, and at other locations dotted throughout the county