Fire district hopefuls focused on funding

While it won’t be clear until after Tuesday’s election who will be sitting on the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners, it is already clear what their biggest challenge will be — securing funding for the fire district.

Both incumbents and at least one challenger said they believed finding a stable source of funding will be the focus of the board in the foreseeable future.

Paul Golnik, who was appointed by the board to Rick Metzger’s vacant seat in February, said although the district has been struggling recently to fund its staffing needs, he felt confident the recently appointed Citizen Review Budget Committee would prove invaluable.

“We should have some good suggestions from (the members) by our next meeting on Monday,” Golnik said.

Darla Hartley also felt hopeful about the commissioners’ ability to steer the district through its funding crisis.

“The board is pretty good, and we put a lot of thought into whatever we do,” she said, explaining that the commissioners strive to give the taxpayers the best service they can. “I feel that is my role — to be the guardian of their tax dollars.”

Gerald Preuss, a 15-year Manchester resident, is running against Hartley for a six-year term in position 3.

He agreed the district’s first priority will be to secure stable funding, and that the board can help educate the public on the firefighters’ role.

“More than 70 percent of their calls are EMT calls, which is everybody’s lifeline,” he said.

Preuss is retired from U.S West after more than 40 years working for telephone companies.

South Kitsap resident Phil Seratt is running against Golnik for his position 5 seat. Although Golnik was appointed to complete Metzger’s term, he must be elected by voters.

Seratt is an operations support technician for CENCOM, Kitsap County Central Communications, where he has worked for more than 12 years. He could not be reached for comment.

Golnik has lived in South Kitsap for 50 years, and has more than 35 years of professional fire-fighting experience in Bremerton, where he is currently a captain.

Hartley has been a South Kitsap resident for nearly fifty years, and retired two years ago from the Washington Education Association.

She first joined the fire district board in 1988.

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