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Opinion

Fire Commissioner questions source of letters

personal agendas Within the last few weeks, a number of articles and letters have appeared in this paper dealing with various issues in our fire district. I congratulate the Weekly for a fair and balanced reporting of our public board meetings.
   In terms of the letters appearing within the last few issues, it is obvious to this Fire Commissioner that these letters are slanted attempts to pressure this Board of Commissioners to take a particular position, or to revise a previous decision based on new information.
   Where are these letters coming from? Are we to believe that some individuals think that if they cannot have their own way by relying on our decision-making process, they can manipulate our citizens, this newspaper, associated commissioners, and other officials in order to bring pressure for a vote in their favor?
   This Fire Commission is an elected body representing all of the citizens, businesses, and institutions of this community. Each commissioner took an oath to make the best decisions possible based on the information presented to fulfill our mission: Dedicated to the preservation and protection of life and property through education, fire prevention, emergency medical services, and disaster preparedness.
   A major part of our responsibility is to spend the taxpayer's money wisely. This means maintaining the balance between the highest quality fire and life safety at value to our citizens. This we will continue to do.
   Additionally, we have the responsibility to the citizens to maintain the welfare, safety, and care for our firefighters. We must make certain that their training standards and equipment are of the highest caliber, and that they are motivated to achieve the highest standards of excellence in customer service.
   It is also our responsibility to be certain that they are being led by credible and supportive officers. Firefighting is not just a job, nor is it a career, it is a calling. This ensures your safety and this we will continue to do.
   What we will not do is be intimidated by any group, person, or agency motivated by a separate agenda, either from within or from without our fire district. We hold the public trust and credibility, as well as that of our firefighters and officers, to be sacred, and we expect the same from them.
   We have no problem dealing with genuine concerns or issues--either in the paper or in our public sessions--but not by "agenda letters." These letters can damage the reputation and morale of our firefighters and officers. This is unacceptable.
   Our firefighters have developed one of the finest reputations in the state. As a commissioner, I will not see their reputation tarnished. There is no room for personal agendas and vendettas in public service--especially when it relates to citizen safety.
   Our citizens have given the Board of Commissioners the opportunity and honor to lead the fire district in the design of its policies. We are the elected officials of the community. You have given us the mandate to make policy on you behalf.
   Those policies are based on decisions originating from information given to us by the public, the chief, officers, and firefighter project teams. It is their responsibility to give us the best information possible. It is our responsibility to make the best decision as a board.
   As the leadership of this fire district, we intend to keep these responsibilities separate. This board comprises the highest policy-making authority within the fire district, and that authority will remain where it belongs.

Benjamin J. May, Fire Commissioner, Woodinville