Editorial: Picks for Fire District 1; Edmonds, Sultan school boards

  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 8:53am
  • Opinion

By The Herald Editorial Board

Voters in Snohomish County should have received their ballots for the Aug. 1 primary election.

Between now and the end of the month, The Herald Editorial Board will be publishing its endorsements and other recommendations for several races in the primary. Because of the number of primary races this year, for select races we have elected to make recommendations of two candidates we believe should move on to the general election, with the intention of making endorsements in those races for the Nov. 7 general election.

Snohomish County Fire District 1, Position 3: Fire District 1, which serves about 200,000 south county residents, is considering a merger with the Lynnwood Fire Department that would create a regional fire authority, an issue that also will be on the Aug. 1 ballot. The proposed merger has been in discussions since October.

But the district also was in the news earlier this year when a conversation between fire district commissioners was picked up by a “hot mic” during a break in a meeting. Unaware the microphone was on, Commissioner David Chan was heard on the tape saying the district should hire Mexican immigrants as paramedics because they would be cheaper. Meador replied that immigrants couldn’t do the job. Both commissioners apologized, but many, including the district’s firefighters union, called for a reprimand or resignations by both.

Chan, who was elected previously in 2005 and 2011, is up for re-election. Even meant in jest, the comments were at the least damaging to district employee morale and demonstrated a surprising lack of understanding for the south county’s cultural diversity. Chan did himself no favors by attempting to excuse his behavior by saying that President Trump has said worse.

We believe district voters should replace Chan with one of his challengers and recommend that Brandon Richards and Bret Chiafalo advance to the general election.

Richards, a martial arts studio co-owner, is a first responder with the county’s volunteer search-and-rescue team and told a Herald reporter he’s seeking better communication between the board and district employees. Richards said he wants to see investment in more staff and new equipment.

Chiafalo, a Democratic Party elector, gained notoriety this year as a “faithless elector” when he declined to cast his ballot in the Electoral College for Hillary Clinton, in a bid to encourage Republican electors to not elect Donald Trump. Chiafalo and three others were fined and are challenging the fine in court. That controversy, however, shouldn’t affect his ability to represent the district. Chiafalo, endorsed by the firefighters union, says he would concentrate initially on hiring a permanent fire chief who would be qualified to lead the district as it grows, especially if the merger is approved.

Edmonds School District, District 4: Susan Phillips, the current school board president, is not seeking re-election to the board. Fortunately, the position has attracted the candidacies of three qualified women involved in schools and community: Deborah Kilgore, Cindy Sackett and Cathy Baylor.

While any of the three would serve the district well, we are recommending Baylor and Kilgore in the primary.

Baylor is a music teacher and is a tutor and director of the district’s Indian Education program. She has also led the Edmonds Music Teachers Association and the Lynnwood Library Board. She has lived in the district for 48 years and has two children in the district. Baylor has witnessed cultural diversity grow in the district — 50 percent of students identify as nonwhite — and has experience as an advocate for inclusion of minorities.

Kilgore has a doctorate in education and a masters in business administration, and served previously as a researcher for the Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching at the University of Washington. She has served on the Lynnwood Elementary Parent Teacher Organization board, including terms as president.

Sultan School District, District 5: After serving since 1997, current school board member Patty Fountain is not seeking re-election. The open seat attracted the candidacies of Christopher Hamburg Sr., Annie King and Kate Roesler. We recommend that Hamburg and Roesler continue to the general election.

Hamburg has served as president of the Sultan Booster Club and has volunteered with students at the middle school and high school in their drama productions. Roesler has served previously as chairman of the Startup Water District, and as a farmer and small business owner, has experience lobbying at the state and federal level.

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