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Eight vie for fire board

A firefighter, a volunteer and a local businessman are among the eight candidates vying for the open spot on the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s Board of Commissioners, following the resignation of Rick Metzger, Jr., last December.

At the board’s most recent meeting on Feb. 7, Chair Dusty Wiley said the commissioners are still considering all the candidates and expect to announce their choice at the next meeting on Feb. 24.

The candidates include at least two current firefighters, one a soon-to-be-retired Battalion Supervisor for the City of Bremerton, and two men who ran for two open spots on the board two years ago.

Metzger announced his retirement last December, after serving four years of the six-year term he was elected to in 2001.

Metzger, who served on the board since his appointment in 1999, said unfortunately his work duties and responsibilities had increased substantially since accepting a new assignment with the U.S. Navy as the Public Safety Program Director for Commander Navy Region Northwest.

Metzger said he felt an ideal commissioner candidate would be someone who could see both sides of the issues facing the fire district.

“An ideal fire commissioner is that person who can find the balance to ensure a level of protection for the people who are doing the work, but then also recognize that somebody has to pay the bills,” he said. “You have to balance the needs of the citizens against the needs of the department, and it’s certainly a challenge to do it right.”

Metzger said it also takes a considerable investment of time as a commissioner to learn all the rules and regulations governing the district’s operations, and considerable effort to make decisions based on fact, rather than emotion.

Because he feared “serving as a politician in name only,” Metzger said he was stepping down from his commissioner role, effective Jan. 31.

The eight candidates include:

n Dick Bower: A Kitsap County resident for four years, Bower has more than 20 years of government service experience, and is currently a fire marshal and building safety official for the city of Gig Harbor.

He has served both as a volunteer firefighter/EMT, and as chief of a 65-person volunteer department.

n Richard Fife: A Port Orchard resident, Fife currently works as a consultant after working in transportation management for the Washington State Ferries for eight years and serving in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander.

n Paul Golnik: A South Kitsap resident for 50 years, Golnik has more than 34 years of professional firefighting experience with the city of Bremerton, and is currently a battalion supervisor, though he plans to retire this year. He also volunteered at SKF&R for 13 years.

n R. Scott Lucke: A South Kitsap resident for 10 years, Lucke currently works as a nuclear engineering technician at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He has also served as a volunteer with the fire district for more than 10 years.

In 2003, he ran against Commissioner Roger Wiley for the board’s position 1, earning 44 percent of the votes.

n Vincent Muscolo: A South Kitsap resident for eight years, is a firefighter/paramedic for Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, where he has worked for 10 years. He began serving as a volunteer firefighter at age 19.

n Gerald Preuss: A Manchester resident, Preuss is retired from U.S West after more than 40 years working for telephone companies, becoming a supervisor and responsible for creating operating budgets of several million dollars.

n Phil Seratt: A South Kitsap resident, Seratt is an operations support technician for CENCOM, Kitsap County Central Communications, where he has worked for more than 12 years. In 2003, he ran against Commissioner Dave Gelsleichter for the board’s Position 4, earning 47 percent of the votes.

n Wayne Tripp: A South Kitsap resident since 1979, Tripp currently runs Tripp Insurance Agency in Port Orchard, a branch of Farmers Insurance. He also served in the U.S. Navy for eight years, and was a firefighter/EMT for the Puget Sound Regional Fire Department at PSNS.

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