Cho makes political debut as Bainbridge fire commissioner

Long-time island resident and career firefighter YongSuk Cho successfully beat out opponent David H. Lynch for Position 2 on the board for the Bainbridge Island Fire Department.

Cho was leading in the first official vote count released by the Kitsap County Elections Division on Election Night.

Cho had 65 percent of the vote, while Lynch only had 34 percent.

The first vote tally was 2,959-1,529.

Both candidates ran campaigns for Bainbridge Island Fire Department Commissioner Position 2 based upon concerns of fire station manning, departmental fairness and the responsible handling of the budget.

Lynch and Cho both advanced from a Primary Election in August, where Cho easily outpaced his other two opponents.

Cho, 43, ran a campaign based on his years of experience as a firefighter and emergency responder, claiming inside knowledge of the department and its issues were critical for effective board leadership.

After 22 years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT for the Bainbridge Island Fire Department and 14 years as a career firefighter/EMT with the Bainbridge Department as well as eight years as a member of FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Cho proposed to strengthen the island's department by renewing interest and participation in the volunteer program. He further claimed that the lack of consistent manning of Station 23 remained a critical issue.

Lynch, 63, ran a campaign based on his business and leadership experience while part of a number of government and corporate scientific advisory boards and grant review committees.

Having served on the Bainbridge Island Harbor Commission, he played a significant role in obtaining a $2 million settlement from the Washington State Ferry system that has been designated for waterfront improvement projects around Bainbridge and claimed that it was a knowledge of business and logistics that were required for effective board leadership, not technically specific knowledge.

The win for Cho was not completely unexpected.

In the primary, Cho was the clear choice of voters with 62 percent of the vote, while Lynch finished with almost 23 percent and Meghan McKnight, 14 percent.

Voters also cast ballots in two other contested fire department commissioner races this year.

Eileen A. McSherry and William “Bill” Ruddick were both running for the Position 4 seat, while Theresa "Teri" Dettmer ran against Holly vanSchaick for the Position 5 seat.

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