Fox River fire district sees its first contested race for trustee

This election season is giving voters in the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District a first: a contested race for trustee.

Pam Turriff, 62, and incumbents Robert Handley, 63, and Chuck Dunham, 68, are vying for two six-year terms.

The April 7 election is the second consolidated election since 2012, when district residents voted to have elected trustees. Previously, the Kane and the DuPage county boards appointed the trustees at the recommendation of their respective board chairman.

Only incumbents ran in the 2013 consolidated election.

The candidates in the April 7 race share similar goals regarding firefighter pay.

The district has placed a referendum on the spring ballot that, if approved, would lead to increased wages, among other investments.

Handley and Dunham – who both saw the fire district go from a paper district that contracted services from St. Charles to a fully functional district with two stations and land for a third – said competitive wages would help the district retain personnel.

While Turriff is uninvolved with the referendum, she said she supports attracting and retaining high-quality firefighters. To have the highest quality people might mean paying them a little more, she said.

“If I can be part of making that happen, I’d be thrilled,” Turriff said. “There’s nothing more important than people’s safety.”

The incumbents said their experience with the district separates them from Turriff.

"She really doesn't have the experience or depth of knowledge that I do," Dunham said.

Dunham has been on the board for eight years. He said he would like another term to see through other projects, such as building Station No. 2 and acquiring “top-notch” equipment.

Similarly, Handley said he knows where the district is, where it was and where it's going. He has been a trustee since 2001.

“We still have a few more things to get done in order to get the fire district in tip-top shape,” he said. “I think I can still help out.”

Turriff said she would bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Her leadership experience includes serving as the St. Charles Education Association president. She also lives in the neighborhood where Station No. 3 recently opened, she said, and it would be beneficial to have a resident on the board.

“We’re all thrilled that they’re there,” she said.

More online

To learn more about candidates running in the April 7 election – and to learn more about referendums that will appear on local ballots – visit the Kane County Chronicle's Election Central website at