Threevie to be fire commissioner

Published on Thu, Aug 9, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Three vie to be fire commissioner

By Jack Kintner

The only contest in the August 21 primary election for voters in Blaine and Birch Bay is for a seat on the North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services (NWFRS) board of commissioners. NWFRS, which is also Whatcom County Fire District 21, was formed by the merger of fire districts 13 and 3. This pits incumbent commissioners Eddie Lathers, district 13, against Roger Hawley, district 3, for a single available seat. This will happen again in 2009 and 2011 in order to reduce the number of commissioners to three.

Hawley and Lathers have been joined in the race by Blaine realtor Kathy Stauffer.

Whatcom County Auditor Shirley Forslof has sent out the mail-in primary ballots and reminded voters earlier this week that they are due back by election day, August 21. She advised people who intend to mail their ballots in to vote at least a day earlier because our mail is postmarked in Everett, making it possible for ballots mailed on the right day to still be disqualified by a late postmark.

Seed potato farmer Roger Hawley, 58, has also been a fire commissioner for 12 years with NWFRS. “I enjoy the job,” he said with a smile, “even though it does keep your blood pressure up. There are some final touches on the merging of the two districts that need attention as well as some other changes and growth issues that need taking care of, although we’ve gotten most of the project done.” He said he’s running for a third term “to continue serving the people.”
Hawley was a district 3 volunteer firefighter for 20 years, ending up as battalion chief at the Laurel station. He is married to Vicki Hawley and lives in the Laurel area. They have two grown children and operate a seed potato farm near Wiser Lake.

Eddie Lathers, 64, has served 21 years as a volunteer firefighter and is completing his second six-year term as a fire commissioner with NWFRS. He owned and operated his own restaurants locally and currently works as a host at the Nooksack River Casino.

“There are still some things that have not yet been completed within our fire district as we have moved from an all-volunteer department through the process of building to where we are now,” he said, “and I want to continue.”

Lathers lives in Birch Bay and has been single since his wife died 21 years ago in a H Street traffic accident.

Kathy Stauffer, 51, served two terms on Blaine’s city council. She represented the council in developing the interlocal agreement under which Blaine went from having an all-volunteer fire department to using paid career firefighters from fire district 13, now a part of district 21. She also served on the Blaine Planning Commission and in many other volunteer capacities. Emergency medical response in the whole North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Services (NWFRS) area is one of her primary concerns.

“While I’ve never been a firefighter, this is really a business position,” she said, “and I’ve operated as a successful business in Blaine for many years. We have to understand the district’s limitations on how it can generate revenue, and then there has to be a cooperative effort to generate that revenue from the city and the rural areas we serve. With a consensus approach we can build more resources to provide a better level of emergency response. It doesn’t have to be adversarial. We all want the same thing, better services for our community.” Stauffer lives between Blaine and Birch Bay and has three grown children.