Fire 12 recall makes August ballot


File photo

Mason County Fire District 12 commissioners, from left, John Pais, Albert Wilder and Brian Jutson.

Mason County Fire District 12 commissioners John Pais, Albert Wilder and Brian Jutson could lose their positions after the county auditor certified recall petitions filed against them. The recall measure will be on the Aug. 1 ballot.

Matlock resident Kristin Masteller, who is one of the leaders of the recall effort along with Matlock resident Amanda Gonzales, told the Journal she was given papers for the recall effort for all three commissioners, dated May 9.

"I am very pleased that we were able to finally get this over the finish line," Masteller wrote to the Journal in an email. "This has been an arduous process. We collected over 300 signatures in less than two weeks; well past the number needed. The hard work is done. Now we just need people to vote in August and make their voices heard."

The document has Mason County Auditor Steve Duenkel's signature and states the Mason County Elections Department canvassed the signatures on the recall petitions as required by law and determined the required number of 85 signatures were legal, registered voters, and that the petition was determined sufficient.

The letter includes wording of how the ballot synopsis will appear on ballots and states commissioners have a chance to submit a response to the charges in the ballot synopsis, and any response will appear on the ballot.

Masteller said more than 300 signatures were collected, but she did not know how many were certified by the auditor. Almost 100 signatures were collected during the April 15 community meeting.

"Over the course of about 10 days, volunteers were able to get the rest of the signatures from their neighbors and collect signatures at the Matlock Store," Masteller wrote. "It was a smooth and easy process, thankfully, given our short timeline to get it done. People are ready for a change and to get this mess put behind us."

Masteller said there is strong support to recall the commissioners and "regain control over our tax dollars and public safety." She said the more digging done into records, the more questionable expenditures the group finds.

Commissioner Wilder did not file to run for re-election in the August primary or the November general election, which means even if Wilder is not recalled, he will leave the commission in January. Cinda Compton, Jennifer Jutson and Nicholas Jones are running in the August primary for Wilder's seat. Masteller said the group has publicly endorsed Jones to be voted in as commissioner.

"It doesn't change anything. Once the results are certified on Aug. 15, if the existing fire commissioners are indeed recalled by the voters, the Mason County commission will then become the interim fire commission until they are able to appoint new commissioners to lead the organization," Masteller wrote. "They will do this through a public solicitation process. Given the continued lack of transparency, the increasingly aggressive behavior by the commissioners toward the public in attendance at commission meetings, and the ongoing questionable expenditures using public funds, it's imperative that the current fire commission is removed as soon as possible. At the rate that the fire district has been hemorrhaging funds over the last 18 months, we cannot afford to wait until Dec. 31. They all must go now."

Masteller said the group has Mike Brown, the former Fire District 12 chief, ready to step into his former role and come out of retirement for a year to help ensure ongoing fire protection and public safety coverage for the community and a smooth transition to a new administration.

"We also have several volunteers that are standing by, and the retired fire chief has already been working on repairing relationships with other fire districts county-and-statewide to ensure we have mutual aid," Masteller wrote.

Fire 12 commissioners had their monthly meeting Tuesday in Matlock and did not comment when asked for their thoughts on the recall election in August. Wilder also declined to comment about why he wasn't running for re-election as a fire district commissioner.

Author Bio

Matt Baide, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
Email: [email protected]

Email: [email protected]


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