Editorial: District needs change

A couple of levy elections that failed miserably suggest change is needed at the top of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

Since only one of the three commissioner positions is on the Nov. 3 ballot, it’s Larry Morse who should go. This is not a specific criticism of Mr. Morse, who has been a dedicated public servant of the district for a number of years. It’s just that the district has a serious public relations problem and it has to be dealt with.

Challenging Morse for the position is Jerry Goen, a longtime volunteer firefighter with an extensive background as a professional firefighter with Navy Region Northwest. He has the local contacts and professional background to make an outstanding fire commissioner.

However, Goen should go slowly in his desire to hire more paid firefighters for the budget-challenged fire district. Volunteers are absolutely essential to its mission, and too many paid personnel can undermine the volunteer base.

Aside from that one concern, Goen can hopefully lead North Whidbey Fire and Rescue in a positive direction, gaining the trust and respect of the voters. The department can’t live forever with the 1 percent property tax limitation without seriously cutting into its firefighting and lifesaving services. At some point, another levy request will be needed, and this time it had better succeed.

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