Elections

Thurston county fire protection district 3

Gene Dobry

Age: 56

Occupation: State loan specialist for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Education: bachelor’s degree, meteorology, Pennsylvania State University, 1981; master’s degree, soil science and biometeorology, Utah State University, 1986. Retired lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force, 1971 to 2003.

Appointed or elected government experience: “Ineligible during military career.”

Family: Wife, Rachel; three sons, Clint, 34, Eric, 33, and Jason, 29; five grandchildren.

Major endorsements: Olympia Master Builders

Contact information: 360-455-7426, gene@genedobry.com, www.genedobry.com, 8539 Bedington Dr. S.E., Olympia, WA 98513.

Do you think the district should go it alone or form a regional fire authority with a neighboring district or districts, or do you think it should settle its differences with the city of Lacey and continue a contractual relationship beyond 2010?

My preference would be to renegotiate with the city of Lacey in a parity partnership relationship. This could be accomplished by either annexation of the city’s residents into the fire district or through a new contractual arrangement with the city that periodically adjusts their payments to match the financial commitment of the district’s residents. The new contract should benefit all 85,000 residents in the service area, not just a specific geographic community group. Crafting a contract of this nature would be a win-win for both political entities and would certainly move us forward from the disharmony that we currently are experiencing. My concept of an effective partnership arrangement is that we share responsibilities from a strategic point of view, not from a parochial perspective. This means all residents and businesses contribute with common tax formulas to secure the revenue requirement to fund our mutual public fire support. This arrangement eliminates revenue inequities and the potential for unintended subsidies. Additionally, fire district planning and decision making by the Board of Commissioners should be done with input from the Lacey City Council as well as from residents’ comments from the combined service area.

In recent elections, voters have twice rejected paying more taxes to support the district’s operation. Whether the city continues to be a partner, the district will need additional revenue to cover increasing costs. What specifically must the district do to regain the support of its voters in the future?

I believe the confidence in the district‘s commissioners has definitely been damaged. This is precisely one of the reasons why I am running for the office. To fix this problem, it’s time for a fresh leader with new perspective, new purpose and new energy to be elected as commissioner. I believe I can bring these to the district. I have proposed a plan. Allow me to introduce my “R” plan to restore the confidence back in the voters.

A. Revive the volunteer force. The district needs a robust volunteer force to support and augment the career staff. This will reduce escalating costs and renew citizen involvement and return community pride back in the fire department.

B. Renegotiate with the city; form a parity partnership as explained in the previous question.

C. Refuse to overspend; develop and implement a sustainable budget, not only for the current year but also one that doesn’t create financial problems in the subsequent years.

What is your view of the active role the firefighters’ union is playing in the Lacey City Council races?

The firefighter’s union has the right to support and endorse candidates of their choosing just as any other organization does. However, discretion can be a powerful ally and I don’t believe the local firefighter’s union is doing themselves a favor by being involved in this year’s political controversy, especially when it could be perceived as vindictive and/or self serving. I’m personally aware of a few mid-level firefighter leaders who recently have made purposeful efforts to become involved in local community organizations. They have volunteered their time and have participated in service projects as a means to present a positive, professional image of the fire department staff. They are representing their profession and the fire district very well and are having much success at explaining their position on some of the controversial issues that have made the news. I enthusiastically applaud their efforts. I’m disappointed to see this progress and community spirit diminished as the union takes sides in a political election. My advice to the union is it should remain neutral and avoid actions that risk damaging the fire department’s image as safety professionals and public servants of the community.

 • Dobry has loaned his campaign $1,400, according to PDC records.

Frank Kirkbride (I)

Age: 62

Occupation: president, The Kirkbride Group Inc., real estate development, management and investment company.

Education: bachelor’s degree, landscape architecture, Washington State University, 1969.

Appointed or elected government experience: Lacey fire commissioner, 2000, appointed, 2001 to present, elected; member, Lacey Historical Commission, 1984 to 1998, appointed; member of numerous board and task forces for city, Thurston County and North Thurston Public Schools, 1976 to 2000, appointed.

Family: Wife, Diana; son, David, 32; daughter, Amber, 28; six grandchildren.

Major endorsements: “None requested — want to make sure I represent all 46,000 people of District #3.”

Contact information: 360-491-6900, frank@kirkbridegroup.com, 4405 7th Avenue S.E., Suite 301, Lacey, Washington 98503

The district will settle the “differences” with the city of Lacey. I have felt that the most significant problem between the two entities is a failure to communicate. Fire commissioners and the City Council share the same issues and each can be resolved. I believe that a contract relationship is an interim solution, not the best solution for services. Better concepts are annexation of the city into the district, a regional fire authority, or a new joint operating entity. However, these will take some time to study and discuss with the community. A city of Lacey fire department would provide a level of service to its citizens not significantly changed from what they receive today.

If separated, both entities must have a close and professional working relationship. The district can provide fire and emergency medical services to its citizens without the city of Lacey contract or the creation of a new service entity. The district currently relies on the Olympia Fire Department, South Bay Fire District, and others to supplement the services to our citizens. A Lacey Fire Department would be added to the team. However, overhead costs can be reduced and manpower used more efficiently through a combined system.

The district must continue to provide the best emergency services possible with the funds the taxpayers provide. If revenue does not increase, then methods must be developed to provide the key services while facing increasing costs. Recommendations by the district’s citizens advisory committee can create the foundation for a new organization and changes on how emergency services are provided. These ideas, coupled with sound fiscal management and improved taxpayer communications, should help the stakeholders make the best possible decision for their safety and welfare. Fire protection and suppression along with support for Medic One’s advanced life support (heart attack, stroke, severe trauma) must be the primary focus. Providing basic life support services, non-emergency aid, and the like, may have to be re-evaluated when funds are limited. The fire district uses many volunteers. Although difficult to recruit, train, and retain, the use of volunteers must be continued. Volunteers increase the personnel needed without increasing long term costs.

I believe that the Fire District and all those officially associated with it, such as the union, have no business being involved in the politics of another government entity, such as the city of Lacey. Individual firefighters are free to express their political feelings, be politically active and to become civically involved in their home communities. I do not know if there has been any adverse impact by the union’s involvement in the City Council races. Our continued discussions with the city (sometimes weekly) have been generally productive and focused on resolving the service and funding issues that are key to the continuation of our joint relationship.

 • Kirkbride told the state Public Disclosure Commissioner he will raise or spend no more than $5,000 and will not accept a total contribution from a single donor of more than $500. As a result, he is not required to file campaign finance reports with the PDC.

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