News

Fire board faces election decision

By Judy Halone-The Courier-Herald

Former East Pierce Fire and Rescue vice chairman and commissioner Roger Coleman's Oct. 8 resignation may present a challenge for its board once the Nov. 6 election ballots are tallied.

Coleman, a resident of Lake Tapps, resigned last week after pleading guilty in King County Court in July to a gross misdemeanor drug charge.

During the Aug. 21 primary election, Coleman was one of four candidates vying for the Fire District No. 22 Commissioner Position 1. He finished with 1,291 votes, second to Raymond Bunk with 1,362.

With the general election less than three weeks away, the process must go through, Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy said.

“Our ballots were mailed out,” she said. “Our window of time to withdraw is 30 days prior to when we mail.” McCarthy referred to the mailing of ballots to military and other voters overseas.

Coleman would have had to withdraw by June 14, Pierce County Elections Manager Lori Augino said.

Because Coleman's name will be on the ballot, McCarthy said it will be up to the board of commissioners to decide what to do, she said.

“The train has left the station,” McCarthy said. “He (Coleman) is currently the sitting fire commissioner, and this election will show who would be the next,” she said.

McCarthy said the election process is a “parallel process” with the elections department doing its job; “the fire district will have their own process. That will be in their own peruse,” she said.

It is not unusual for candidates to drop from the election process once ballots are printed and mailed out, she said.“We've had a few this election season. It seems to happen more often in an odd year than in an even year.”

But the final process may not be that simple - especially if voters still mark Coleman's name on the ballot.

Joe Quinn, an attorney representing the board of commissioners, said the fire district will have to consider its options regarding the resignation, and whether it triggered an immediate vacancy.

“The simple thing to me is, is it likely that he will win?” Quinn said.

Jeremy Coleman, 28, spoke late last week for his father, who was on a pre-planned vacation, he said.

“If he wins, the board would decide,” Jeremy Coleman said. “But he has resigned. He's given 10 years and worked pretty tirelessly; he's worked really hard in public service; he's looking forward to relaxing a bit and enjoying life.”

Judy Halone can be reached at jhalone@courierherald.com.

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