Six people are vying for three seats in the Benton fire districts 1, 3 and 6 races in the Nov. 8 election.
The four-year term is not salaried, though commissioners receive a small stipend for each meeting they attend.
Benton Fire District 1
Jerry Morris, 69, spent 26 years with California's Ventura Fire District in administration, fire investigation and fire prevention before retiring and moving to the Tri-Cities 23 years ago.
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He said he is concerned that not enough attention is given to reserve firefighters, who are paid four hours for working eight hours, he said.
"I plan to tackle this problem head on," he said.
He also told the Herald that though the district's budget is tight more respect is needed for the reserve firefighters.
Morris said he is not running against his opponent but rather "the entire board and administrative staff for lack of action over the last four or five years on the compensation package for reserve firefighters."
His opponent, longtime incumbent EW "Bill" Houchin, declined to provide any comments to the Herald about himself or the issues he sees as important in District 1.
"I don't think it's anyone's business what I think," he said.
Benton Fire District 3
Gerald "Gerry" Sherman, 62, of Prosser, is a retired law enforcement officer who said he would like to stabilize the revenue mechanism within Benton Fire District 3 by moving to a Regional Fire Authority or by annexing the city.
"The board is currently reviewing the Regional Fire Authority plan that was rejected by the voters last time," he said in an email to the Herald. "I believe that we need to educate the citizens on the benefits of the plan and address any concerns that the public may have before any attempt is made to place the issue on a ballot."
Sherman says he already knows how district business works as he has been a fire district administrator in Benton County for 12 years.
"I have hands-on knowledge of the accounting practices, human resource issues and compliance issues as they relate to the numerous rules and regulations from various agencies that deal with public safety," he stated. "I hope to continue to facilitate unity on the board as we move forward with the issues that are presented to us."
He sees the commission as an important tool in maintaining good communication with taxpayers as well as fellow board members.
He said he would like to start sending out a quarterly newsletter to encourage more public participation in the district.
His opponent, Tim Stewart, 51, of Prosser, is the superintendent of the Prosser Cemetery Association and volunteer firefighter for the city of Grandview, Benton Fire District 5 and the state Moilization and Southeast Incident Management Team.
Stewart said in an email to the Herald that District 3 needs to take a long-term look at service, staff, equipment and financial plans so that the district can maintain a competent and effective fire response team. He also would encourage combining District 3 with the city of Prosser.
He plans to create three, five- and 10-year plans for the district and thinks the city and county should pay equal rates for fire protection.
Though he feels Sherman is a worthy opponent, Stewart said he feels he is the better choice because of his 33 years experience in the firefighting business.
"I will bring a different perspective to the board. I will work with the board and department in making decisions that will assure a safe, well trained and properly equipped fire department to serve the area," he stated.
Benton Fire District 6
Steve McClintock and Richard Jackson did not respond to several emails or phone calls from the Herald. They also did not provide candidate statements for the county's online voters' guide.