EDITORIAL: Change would boost morale

Voters have a chance Nov. 4 to provide some new leadership for Island County Fire District 2 which has been suffering morale problems among some volunteer firefighters.

Incumbent Commissioner Bruce Carman is up for re-election. He is being challenged by Larry Morse.

Carman has been a good nuts-and-bolts fire commissioner, but it’s time for a change. And Morse is a good choice for a replacement because he has been following Fire District 2 activities closely for years as a volunteer and frequent attendee at board meetings. He can step in without a long learning period.

The fire district made a major change early this year when it abandoned the tradition of having both a south and north division chief. These two part-time positions were eliminated in favor of a single, full-time fire chief for the entire district.

The move made good sense on paper, and seems to be working well. But the process was flawed. Many firefighters felt their views were not being listened to, and that the job of chief was not adequately publicized before the hiring decision was made.

The commissioners made the correct decision, but in the wrong way. There was no need to alienate any of the volunteer firefighters in the process of creating the single-chief position. More openness and better communication were required, but were not adequately provided. As a result, a decision that should have unified the district ended up dividing it further.

What happened wasn’t entirely Bruce Carman’s fault, and no doubt feelings will heal in time. Nevertheless, the opportunity is here for a change and it should be grasped.

Carman has served for 13 years, which is a sufficient amount of time in this largely volunteer position. Voters should beware of letting public servants get too entrenched. The district belongs to all of the people, and change at the top from time to time is a healthy thing. It keeps citizens interested and ideas fresh. That’s why Larry Morse should be allowed a term as fire commissioner.

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