Bedell and Sutton face off in fire commission race

Ed Sutton is running against incumbent Barbara Bedell for San Juan County Fire Protection District #2 Fire Commissioner 3.

It is a non-partisan, six-year position and Bedell has served for eight years (she was appointed to vacant seat in 2009 and then elected to a full term). In February 2017, seventy-one percent of Orcas voters chose to expand the number of commissioners from three to five, making it the largest board of fire commissioners in San Juan County. The board consists of Amanda Montague, Bedell, Tim Fuller, Jim Helminski and Wesley Heinmiller. A fire commission approves policies, plans, procedures and expenditures for the department.

The Islands’ Sounder asked Bedel and Sutton questions about their campaign.

Barbara Bedell

Why are you running?

To maintain the excellence of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue through fiscal responsibility; to retain continuity within the board of commissioners; and because this particular service for the community has been personally very rewarding.

During your tenure, what are you most proud of accomplishing?

The accomplishments of which I am most proud are the promotion of Scott Williams to the chief’s position and the passage of the most recent levy

What is your background – both professionally and in public service?

I have a Master of Arts with a concentration in Medieval Literature and taught for 20 years in a midwest college. I served for more than nine years on the Orcas Medical Foundation and for a similar amount of time on the Community Action Board for the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington. I am a past president of the Spring Point Homeowners’ Association.

Ed Sutton

Why are you running?

During the 43 years that I have lived on Orcas, I have served our community on many boards and commissions because I believe, strongly, that each citizen has an obligation to participate in some way. Some folks participate in their churches. Some are youth coaches. Others donate time and service to organizations like the food bank. And others, like me, offer to serve in positions on commissions that are vital in the service to our community.

Public service has become an avocation for me. I am proud to serve my neighbors and speak on their behalf to the vital issues that confront us all. As noted in my earlier opinion piece, I am running to offer the community a choice and a new face on the OIFR Board. Two terms in any particular position are sufficient. A new member offers a different perspective, a renewed willingness to ask questions.

What do you hope to accomplish?

I am NOT running because I believe that there are issues at OIFR.

On the contrary; the staff and volunteers have served the Orcas community with dedication and distinction.

So I hope that by serving, and asking those questions, I can inspire the organization to review, refresh and renew the commitments that are necessary for a growing and aging population. I am particularly focused on the medical mission of OIFR. We can always replace a house. We can’t replace a life. I would like to question whether OIFR can do more on the medical side.

What is your background – both professionally and in public service

I have an MS in Business Administration from Lehigh University and was an independent businessman in wholesale food distribution for 40 years.

My public service includes: Orcas Island School Board – eight years; Eastsound Water Users Association director – eight years; San Juan County Ferry Committee – 20 years; WA State Tariff Commission – eight years; Eastsound Sewer – 16 years; SJC Board of Adjustment – four years; Homeowners Association president – 12 years; founding member of the EPRC – four years; Little League Coach – 8 years; Orcas Choral Society – 20 years.