Issue statements from Fire District 1 candidates Luke and Schrock

Fire District 1 Commission candidates Mike Luke and Richard Schrock recently sent statements about what they think are the most important issues in this year’s election.

Luke is challenging incumbent Schrock on the Nov. 3 general-election ballot.

The position is one of two Snohomish County Fire District 1 positions on the November ballot.

The district includes unincorporated areas of Snohomish County from south Everett to the King-Snohomish County line. The cities of Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Brier get service from the district by contract but don’t vote for commissioners.

Here are Luke’s and Schrock’s statements, in the order that the candidates’ names will appear on the ballot and in the voters’ pamphlet:

Snohomish County Fire District 1, Commissioner Pos. #2

Richard Schrock: Now completing my first term as Fire Commissioner, my background includes four years heading a state agency. I also serve on the countywide emergency radio system board.

Adopting a fire district budget that sufficiently funds a level of service necessary to save the most lives and property is my top priority. That requires stretching available funding to meet growing costs.

State law limits property tax increases for funding fire districts to not exceed a 1% lid on additional annual revenue. District 1 emergency responses increased +13% in the last 20 months.

To meet those growing numbers of emergency 911 calls requires finding new, less-costly ways to efficiently deliver prompt service. Joining other agencies regionally to share resources is one way to:

  • increase efficient service delivery capacity,
  • gain financial stability,
  • streamline unnecessary administrative costs.

Barriers to getting quickest service, such as neighboring city-district borders, should not prevent closest fire trucks responding first to the scene of a fire.

Pooling resources and eliminating duplication with other south county fire departments has already saved thousands of tax dollars (for cities and our Fire District).

As a regional fire agency recognized nationally for excellent service, District 1 recently hired 22 new firefighters. We need more.

I will continue pursuing ways to maintain excellent fire and emergency medical services. Support of our 200 dedicated firefighters and paramedics is much appreciated.

Mike Luke: Fire District 1 exists to serve the citizens and as such, it’s not only beneficial but essential that an ordinary citizen like myself serve on this governing board, to ensure our firefighters are properly equipped and trained to serve the citizens of our district with the lowest cost burden possible.

A pressing issue at FD1 is defining the role and place of labor and its leadership in influencing the governance of Fire District 1. Labor are hired or volunteer staff on duty to deliver specific services to the public, and they should be well but realistically compensated and considered. The erratic costs associated with labor as witnessed by the large retroactive bills presented to the contract cities recently shows competent reform is needed to establish sustainable consistency in this area.

Further I believe it is time to establish policy and demonstrate the will to phase out paid 24-hr shifts by attrition, aided by temporarily increasing the role of volunteers to aid in this transition. Highly paid staff should not be placed in a position that causes them at times to be paid while sleeping. This change should increase safety of staff and their service level to the public by phasing out this outdated status quo.

Please see my website for more about me and to contact me: firedistrict1.com.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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