Sylvia Roberts sought appointment to the Lacey Fire District 3 commission in the spring as a way to give back to the community. She won appointment to the board in April and now seeks to continue that work by running for the Position 2 seat.
Whoever is elected will complete the remainder of the six-year term left vacant by Dennis Jones after he resigned in January for health and personal reasons. But it appears that Roberts, 61, will be the likely winner on Nov. 3 because little is known about her challenger.
Her opponent is James Holcomb, who could not be reached on Thursday. Holcomb works for Michaels, a crafts store, according to a personal finance statement filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission.
Holcomb did not file that document and his candidate registration with the PDC on time, so he faced a $100 fine that would be suspended once he submitted his paperwork. Holcomb eventually filed the documents in August, PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said Thursday.
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Holcomb has submitted a photo and statement for inclusion in the Thurston County voters guide.
“I commit to using the taxpayers money in the most effective and efficient way possible and reducing spending on things we don’t need or aren’t working,” he said as part of his statement.
Roberts worked in education for 37 years, both as a teacher and administrator, but after she retired, she returned to Lacey from the Snohomish area, wanting to give back to the community. Her parents, she recalled, suffered health problems late in their lives, and they had turned to Lacey Fire District 3 for assistance over the years.
“I have lots of experience working for a tax-funded entity,” she said, referring to her work for the Snohomish School District.
Since returning to Lacey, Roberts has noticed how much the city has grown. Growth brings opportunities but also challenges, she said. In the face of all that growth, Roberts wants to make sure that the district maintains its high level of service. Emergency response times for the district currently are around seven minutes, she said.
She also wants to find a way to better address the high number of medical calls the district receives. About 80 percent of its total calls are medical calls, and many of those calls are not about life-threatening situations, Roberts said. She wants to examine a way to respond to those calls without tying up fire district resources.
Fellow incumbent commissioner Gene Dobry and his challenger, Paul Perz, share similar beliefs about handling those calls in a new way.
As for campaign fundraising, PDC data show that Roberts and Holcomb elected to do mini-reporting, which limits raising money and spending to $5,000.
Lacey Fire District 3, the largest fire district in the county, serves the city of Lacey and its urban growth area, which is home to 90,000 people.