Three running for Forks fire district seat in general election

Neris Biciunas

FORKS — The Forks-area Fire District 1 race has an unusual circumstance in the Nov. 7 general election: Three names are on the ballot.

Incumbent Lowell McQuoid’s fellow commissioners removed him from office May 14, saying he had violated the district’s meeting-attendance policy.

The district did not notify the Clallam County Auditor’s Office in time to provide, as mandated by state law, at least three days in the regular filing period for candidates to file for McQuoid’s unexpired term of four years.

Filing period

Three candidates filed for the position during a special May 30-June 1 filing period for the general election.

Neris Biciunas, John Witherspoon and newly appointed Commissioner Tony Romberg are vying for McQuoid’s Position 1 seat, which will be filled by the general election winner after the vote is certified Nov. 28.

The winner will be the candidate who receives the most votes.

Generally primary races cull the contests to two people only.

McQuoid would not comment Wednesday on his departure.

“I don’t want to get into the politics crap,” he said.

The Beaver-area resident was removed from the board for missing three consecutive regular sessions without notifying the district and after not responding to two mailed notifications regarding his absences, district Secretary Jae McGinley said in a letter to the Clallam County Auditor’s Office.

McQuoid was elected without opposition in 2009 and 2015 to six-year terms.

The fire district notified the county May 18 that McQuoid’s position was vacant, county Auditor Shoona Riggs said.

Filing week for the primary was May 15-19.

Incumbent Fire District 1 Commissioner Chet Hunt, who is defending his Position 2 seat against Britni Duncan, said McQuoid had told Hunt he no longer wanted to be on the board.

“He had already said he was done,” Hunt said Wednesday, declining further comment.

“Part of the problem is, Lowell is a good friend of mine.

“I don’t want to say anything that gets misconstrued or whatever and gets stuck in the paper and causes problems for me.”

Commissioners are responsible for passing a taxpayer-funded general fund budget that in 2017 is $290,460.

It funds full-time department Chief Bill Paul’s position and McGinley’s part-time post.

Paul and McGinley were hired in 2016 as the district’s first paid employees.

The district’s 24 firefighter volunteers are not compensated.

Paul, a former longtime volunteer firefighter in District 1, succeeded volunteer Fire Chief Phil Arbeiter, who retired.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Tony Romberg

Jack Witherspoon