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King County Fire Commission 28 debate: Part V
Editor’s Note: Angela Stubblefield and Elbert Reed are running for Fire District 28 Commissioner Position No. 2. The two candidates agreed to an in-paper debate. This is the final installment and includes a rebuttal and closing statements.
Editorial question: The candidates rebutted last week’s answers to the following question:
If you believe firefighters are paid too much, how much should they be paid and how do you propose to roll back salaries as a commissioner when the fire board is dealing with a legally binding contract? If the firefighters’ salaries are appropriate, will these salaries be sustainable?
Reed: Ms. Stubblefield demonstrates her lack of knowledge of standard human resource management practices regarding wages and benefits.
I realize that for any taxpayers, it is difficult to pay for the wages of firefighters who may make more money than they do. However, we need to offer competitive compensation to attract qualified recruits. Along with the police and military, our firefighters are willing to put their lives on the line.
The levy increase puts us all in the difficult position of paying increased taxes. However, we will maintain the current level of protection and will prevent increased property fire insurance premiums due to a reduced fire protection rating.
My opponent continues her campaign of disinformation. She rails against firefighters serving as commissioners. She however is a volunteer fire fighter. What is she really saying? She emphasizes her experience with (King County Fire) District 44, but fails to note they are in dire financial straits for not having restructured following a change in their tax base. Ms. Stubblefield has never stated the need for an effective property and life protection service. Rather, she would gut the firefighting and emergency medical service capabilities we now have.
In short, she has no credibility.
Stubblefield: Mr. Reed, you do not seem to understand industry standard and as a result, are most likely to return the district to the mess I am trying desperately to correct. I agree with you District 28 firefighters’ salaries are not appropriate - they are paid too much using the wrong comparables and a guaranteed COLA of 2-5 percent.
This is about the taxpayer, Mr. Reed. You continue to forget taxpayers pay for their fire service. Your role as commissioner is to represent 18,000 taxpayers – not just 15 union firefighters.
Taxpayers missed you at the town hall meeting last week. It was disappointing to hear you brought forth stipulations for your presence. First, you wanted the League of Women Voters present (three were). Second, you would not accept questions from the taxpayers. I had no stipulations and spoke to a packed house.
After four debates Mr. Reed, you have failed to answer questions from me, and one I answered and gave back to you. You want to be commissioner yet are unwilling to answer questions. Your unwillingness to answer questions demonstrates continued disrespect to district taxpayers and a clear pattern of No plan.
Reed: I thank editor Dennis Box for his public service in initiating and sponsoring this debate. I also appreciate the conversations with hundreds of you voters while visiting over 1,200 households. You demonstrated your responsibility as citizens with your questions and the concern you voiced with the effective and efficient management of Fire District 28.
I hope this debate has helped you understand that you have a clear choice in your vote for a fire commissioner. You can have a clear headed person with management and public involvement skills, who will rely on facts, data and voter input to arrive at the best solutions to ensure that fire and emergency medical teams are equipped and ready to save your life and property. Or, you can have a person with no such skills and experience, who purposely misconstrues the facts, and who is apparently focused on destroying the current fire and lifesaving capabilities under the guise of championing the taxpayer.
As your commissioner I make only two promises. First is to ensure that fire and emergency medical teams are equipped and ready to save your life and property. Second is to ensure your hard earned tax dollars are used wisely.
Stubblefield: District 28 has been severely mismanaged. If you would like to see examples of district bias, please look through the very expensive ads the district has placed (several times) in the Courier-Herald to persuade you to vote yes. District taxpayers paid for these ads – the district is supposed take a neutral position. Does it appear the district has taken a neutral position?
The solution is as follows:
Set up a capital outlay fund to replace aging equipment.
Voters – Increase commissioners from current three to five. This will allow for more citizen input, rather than the potential of just firefighters being commissioners.
Create a labor relations committee of commissioners. (Presently two meeting together constitutes an illegal quorum – five-commissioner panel will not).
Create a reserve fund.
Create a finance committee – with part time professional financial director.
Set up a strategic planning commission for long-term planning.
Mr. Reed is an excellent steward for union firefighters (he is loyal to them) but he will not be the same for district taxpayers. The district needs to put the current good old boy system out of business and never allow a resurgence of a system that ultimately turned on its taxpayers.