JANUARY 27, 1997
Ben May is new chair of the Woodinville Fire District Board of Commissioners.
by Jeff Switzer
Promising a new direction in the board's actions and its relationship with the public, Commissioner Ben May has been chosen the new chair of the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District Board of Commissioners.
"This gives me the chance to contribute to something I'm passionate about in my own field of expertise," May said.
May, vice-president of national and international account development at Chateau Ste. Michelle, has 35 years of marketing in the fire service, including traveling around the country and giving a series of seminars called "Fire Service Marketing Management."
May says he has had a passion for the fire service since he was a small boy. He served as a volunteer firefighter, graduating at the top of his academy. He was appointed to the Woodinville Fire Board in 1994 to complete Woodinville Mayor Bob Miller's last year and was elected to the position unopposed in the fall of 1994.
May feels much work is needed to improve the relationship with the district's customers.
"It's time to put the past behind us. This whole mess, in my opinion, is a complete lack of communication within the department and with the citizens of the department," said May, describing the series of events following the resignation of former fire chief Jim Davis last year.
"There is nothing hidden in that department, the problem is total misperception," he said. "If you don't get information, if there's not a line of communication between you and your customers, ideas fester, and people imagine what might be happening. Anything you see: 'Oh, there's something there.' Then there's a negative connotation, because the overall feeling is negative. It builds on itself and damages the morale of the firefighters."
May proposes an open-door policy with the public, starting with the district's strategic planning process and identifying its future goals and priorities.
"And I'm not going to tolerate petty bickering between Commissioners," he added.
May listed the priorities recently identified through the strategic planning process: