“Tyrrell, Johnson for fire board; Silver for parks”

"Morale around the Bainbridge Island Fire Department stinks.Exactly why – now that depends on who you ask.Firefighters cite what they see as a meddling and intransigent board of commissioners – arrogant and dismissive of the views of career staff and volunteers alike in hiring procedures, equipment purchases and other hot-button issues."

  • Saturday, October 23, 1999 4:00pm
  • News

“Morale around the Bainbridge Island Fire Department stinks.Exactly why – now that depends on who you ask.Firefighters cite what they see as a meddling and intransigent board of commissioners – arrogant and dismissive of the views of career staff and volunteers alike in hiring procedures, equipment purchases and other hot-button issues.At the same time, commissioners present themselves as independent legislators, necessarily beholden to the taxpayers and their own experience and best judgment in reaching critical decisions.They’re both right. Which brings us to the awkward position of Sam Camasi, incumbent for the fire commission, seat 3. In a sense, Camasi is a victim of his own success. Thanks to his 15 years on the board – with fellow Commissioner Alan Corner, now in mid-term, going in his 11th year – the fire commission has become more of a monolith than an elected body. By Camasi’s own admission, anyone making tough decisions for that long is bound to pick up baggage along the way. We agree, to a point – it’s hard to imagine someone sitting on the city council or the school board for the better part of two decades, precisely because with more high-profile councils, voters would long since have tired of the same representation.That’s why we think it’s time for a change, and challenger and Washington State Trooper Glen Tyrrell is an excellent candidate with which to effect it. Tyrrell offers an independence of spirit necessary for sound policy-making, but is equally free to establish new and welcome rapport with those within the department.No one is saying the inmates should be running the asylum here. But it is clear to us that fire department morale will continue to languish – and that critical and valued volunteers will be lost – until the board is infused with some new blood.So we’ll takeTyrrell and first-time incumbent Doug Johnson, over the equally impressive Lynda McMaken, and urge both fire commissioners and Bainbridge voters to consider the move to a five-person board in the immediate future.McMaken, and Camasi himself – whom we genuinely like and respect – would make excellent members of an expanded commission, where a multiplicity of viewpoints would inspire more confidence and participation all around.* * * * *In the park district’s only contested race, Dane Spencer is a bright newcomer with a bulging resume of park planning experience. He hasn’t demonstrated much familiarity with Bainbridge-specific issues, however, and for that reason we’d like to see him spend a few years listening and learning. By contrast, Position 1 incumbent Bob Silver has shown himself to be a sincere and thoughtful voice on a dizzying array of district issues over the last four years. Despite his inherent interest in aquatic issues – as father of two of the island’s best youth swimmers – he has become an expert on everything from ball fields to dog runs. Moreover, the island owes Silver a debt of gratitude for his leadership on the successful pool bond issue, pushing it over the top in its fifth, last-ditch attempt. He deserves to stand with his fellow commissioners when that facility’s dedication ceremonies take place.The other two park positions are uncontested, but we offer our support nonetheless to Joanne Croghan in Position 2 and Dave Shorett in Position 4. Croghan has distinguished herself with a willingness to cast politically unpopular but pragmatic votes. Shorett, as the board’s 1999 chair, has wielded the gavel with firmness, fairness and the occasional touch of dry humor. Both are necessary, balancing voices on what is currently the island’s model government body.#####”

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