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Island NO WHIDBEY FIRE AND RESCUE Commissioner, Position 1

6-year term; No salary. A Fire and Rescue District is responsible for fire response and containment and for paramedic and emergency ambulance service. The commission sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional fire chief and fire district personnel. One of commission's main duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any fire levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget, whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for district employees.
CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    T.J. Lamont (NP) Retired

  • Candidate picture

    Gerald D. Smith (NP) Lieutenant with Navy Region NW Fire & Emergency Services

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Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major issues facing your fire and rescue district?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What unique qualities do you bring to this job?

Phone (360) 720-6901
Email tjlamont49@gmail.com
Experience (300 characters max) 28 years as firefighter, captain and EMT in both paid and volunteer departments and 12 years as a fire Commissioner at North Whidbey Fire and Rescue from January 1999 to December 2011.
I decided to run for Fire Commissioner because I didn't like the way the Commissioners were allowing the Fire Chief waste our tax dollars. I think the Fire Commissioners should be able to say no to the Chief when he wants to spend money that they don't have. They make a budget ever year which tells them how much money they have to spend. They need to stick to it and not go to the voters for more money when they run out. I intend to stay within the budget. In order to do this they need long range planning and the ability to keep spending within the annual budget.
The major issues facing the fire department are 1. Finances 2. Aging Equipment 3. Morale

Finance: The Fire Commissioners have allowed the Fire Chief to spend too much money on personnel and very little on the necessities. We cannot depend on voters increasing the taxes so he can buy everything he wants. We need to prioritize the expenses. This department is a volunteer department, that saves us a lot of money that can be used for important things like equipment and training for the volunteers.

Aging Equipment: The state requires fire engines to be no older that 15 years old. A new engine cost over $500,000 without all the equipment. We are looking at replacing 2 engines soon, that's why we had a reserve fund so we could pay cash.

Morale: Our volunteer firefighters are our most valuable asset. The Chief's plan was to replace them with more expensive full time paid personnel. Morale is down because the volunteers think they are going to be replaced. I won't let that happen.
Finances. We need to get the department back to living within its means. The reserve fund needs to be brought back to the level it was before they allowed the Chief spend most of it. When I was fire Commissioner (Jan 1999 -- Jan 2011) we set aside money in a reserve fund in order to purchase new engines, equipment and facilities with cash. We didn't waste the taxpayer's money on paying interest on loans. I think we can do that again. I want to provide the best emergency service for the public that we can afford. I think we can establish a budget where we can again put some money in the reserve fund to build it back to the point where we can get back to paying cash for everything. It won't be easy but I think it can be done. I don't like asking the voters for more money.
I bring experience and Leadership to the Board of Fire Commissioners. I retired after 28 years as Firefighter, Captain and EMT in both paid and volunteer departments. Fire Commissioner for 12 years at North Whidbey Fire and Rescue. Past President of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Firefighter Association Retired Naval Officer Past member of Board of Directors Island County Farm Bureau Past District Commissioner of Whidbey Island Pony Club. I am retired and I have the time and interest in assuring the North Whidbey Fire and Rescue provides the best emergency services our tax payers can afford.
Phone (360) 632-2211
Email smithgd359@gmail.com
Town where you live Oak Harbor
Experience (300 characters max) 23 Years Volunteer Firefighter with NWFR, 16 Years Captain with NWFR, 15 Years Navy Region NW Fire & Emergency Services, Emergency Medical Technician, Emergency Vehicle Technician, Washington State Emergency Vehicle Accident Prevention Instructor,
I initially chose to run for Fire Commissioner of North Whidbey Fire & Rescue (NWFR) because several members of the organization suggested I should. Members of the organization, including myself are unhappy with the direction that the fire department is trying to go in regards to career staffing and how the fire department is being managed. We feel like money is being spent inappropriately and not in the best interest of the members or the tax payers. If elected I will see that North Whidbey Fire & Rescue will become transparent, honest and a financially stable organization again.
The three major issues facing North Whidbey Fire & Rescue currently is the finances of the departments, the morale of its members and the aging infrastructure.

In regards to the finance of NWFR we use to carry a 1 million dollar reserve until the last couple of years. Under the current management of the commissioners and the fire chief our reserve has dwindled down with no significant plan to replenish it.

A recent survey taken of the current and past members indicated that the department morale is suffering. We need to ensure our members know that they are needed and their thoughts and opinions matter.

The infrastructure of the department is decaying and not within health and safety regulations. Instead of spending tax payer money on unneeded salaries NWFR needs to evaluate its priorities and begin investing in updating and modernizing your fire stations to ensure our volunteers are working in a safe environment which allows them to safely respond to your emergency.
The most urgent of the three issues listed above in my opinion is getting the department fiscally back on track where it was a couple of years ago. We need to rebuild are reserve so we have the cash on hand if something significant happens. Insurance companies cover only so much. That’s cash on hand that we can instantly replace a fire station that costs over a million dollars to rebuild or $500,000.00 to replace a fire engine.

In the 23 years I have been with NWFR we have always been able to work a budget with the tax money provided to us. Just as you and I do with are pay checks at home.
The unique qualities that I bring to being a commissioner for NWFR is the fact that I have been with this organization for a solid 23 years and I am still a current volunteer firefighter responding to your emergencies.

Being that I am currently still active within the organization and a career firefighter in the community that I was born and raised in I know I am most in touch with the members of the organization and the community.

Between the two fire department organizations I have over 38 years of experience with the fire service.

I have the ability to make conscious decisions based on the best interests, concerns and safety of the citizens. I would construct a budget that provides all necessary tools to the firefighters and that is fair to the citizens we protect. I am a leader that has the ability to present new ideas and proposals as well as the strength to say no to those that are inappropriate or not in the best interest of the citizens or the members.

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