LACEY - Longtime fire commissioner Frank Kirkbride was losing in his bid for another term.
Gene Dobry, a federal employee and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, was leading the incumbent by more than 800 votes, Tuesday’s early returns show.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m very pleased.”
Kirkbride couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
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Dobry said voters were expressing a desire to bring in new blood as a result of the turmoil between the city and district and the fact that many district voters were unsettled by the emergency response provider to close the Hawks Prairie fire station earlier this year. The station has since reopened.
All three contested incumbents on the Lacey City Council were losing their races based on the early returns.
The winner will hold the reins in directing the fire district into the future if the city follows through on an earlier vote not to renew the service contract with the district and form its own fire department. Options for the district in that case include reducing its staff or merging with a neighboring fire district.
Both candidates expressed a willingness to mediate their differences and continue the long-standing relationship with the city of Lacey.
Dobry favors developing a strategic plan that will move the two sides beyond their difference and set a course that provides the best service for all 84,000 residents in the existing service area.