Voters support fire annexation

Voters were absolutely clear when they voted during the Nov. 2 general election, they favored the notion of Enumclaw annexing into Fire District 28.

In one of the most lopsided electoral decision in recent memory, voters in both the city and rural area around town combined to give the ballot measure nearly 86 percent support.

Now, the work begins, to carry out the mandate of the people.

In large part, the roles of the city and District 28 simply will reverse on Jan. 1, according to Enumclaw City Administrator Mike Thomas.

For decades, the two entities have jointly supported the firefighter/emergency medical effort, with the city acting as the lead agency. With the dawn of the new year, the district – and its three-member board of commissioners – will take control. Firefighters, Chief Joe Clow and departmental support staff, who have been city employees, will become employees of District 28.

Thomas said one thing that will not change is the level of service provided.

“People shouldn’t see a difference when they call 911,” he said.

Another thing that will not immediately change is the location of department headquarters. According to the transfer agreement already in place, the city will lease the building on Wells Street to the district for the token sum of $100 per year.

Another thing that will not change is the funding system that pays for departmental operations. The existing agreement stays in place through 2011.

That’s a sticking point for a city struggling to bridge a $600,000 gap between expected revenues and anticipated spending.

To provide full-time coverage by professional firefighters, three new employees were brought on board a couple of years ago without a permanent means of funding the positions. Thomas said the debate continues, with members of the Enumclaw City Council examining options for coming up with about $148,000; that’s the city’s share of paying the salary and benefits for the three newest firefighters.

In other highlights from the Nov. 2 general election:

• Sen. Pam Roach had little trouble holding onto her seat in the 31st Legislative District, defeating challenger Matt Richardson in what became one of the most bitterly-fought races in the state. Voters returned the veteran lawmaker with 67 percent support, favoring an incumbent that has been barred by her own Republican caucus for anger issues. Richardson carried even more personal baggage, including allegations of sexual misconduct during his teen years and his departure from teaching positions with three schools.

• State Rep. Christopher Hurst also bucked the trend that saw voters favor new faces. He pulled nearly 58 percent of the vote and was elected for a fifth time. The only candidate in the state listed as an Independent Democrat, he defeated Sumner resident Patrick Reed, who did not mount an aggressive campaign.

• When it came filling an empty seat in the House of Representatives, 31st District voters chose Enumclaw’s Cathy Dahlquist over Lake Tapps resident Shawn Bunney. Dahlquist easily carried King County while Bunney was favored in Pierce, but Dahlquist had more than 52 percent of the total following Saturday’s update.

• Bonney Lake resident Dan Roach, a veteran of the state Legislature, will have a new job in January. He was elected to the District 1 position on the Pierce County Council, receiving 63 percent support to defeat Pat McEligott.

• Buckley voters gave 74 percent support to a replacement levy that funds emergency medical services in the city.

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