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Three Newcastle fire board incumbents teetering in seats late Tuesday

Newcomers ahead as of preliminary results
By: Amber Marra,
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Matters of fire protection in Newcastle could fall on new leadership if election results from late Tuesday night maintain.

Incumbents of the Newcastle Fire Protection District Board of Directors, Chairperson Yvonne Lewis, Vice Chair Bob Stearns and Director Dave Poore had fallen behind three challengers, Dave Ward, Jonita “Joni” Elder and Jimmie Jordan, according to election results late Tuesday night.

Ward had 24 percent of the vote, or 712 votes, while Elder took 18.5 percent of the vote, or 537 votes. Jordon took 18.4 percent, or 534 votes.

Stearns had 13 percent, or 380 votes, while Poore followed with 12.5 percent, or 364 votes. Lewis rounded out the end of the pack with 12.3 percent, or 357 votes.

Ward, Elder and Jordan join fire board members Bill Calkins and Leonard Orsolini.

The election follows months of controversy and debate in Newcastle over the fire protection district’s funding and the way the board members managed funds. Neither Lewis nor Poore would comment on the preliminary results Tuesday night and Stearns, who was out of town, did not return a call seeking comment.

“If it holds, it’s pretty clear the voters want change and they want it now and we’re going to give it to them quickly,” Ward said.

Voters also took up Measure K on Tuesday, a controversial tax reform that has followed incumbents and challengers alike through the election.

Measure K would reform Measure B, which was passed in a special election in March and imposes a $146.46 annual parcel tax, which can be increased up to 3 percent annually, on property owners. Measure K reduces that tax to $30 after the first three years and eliminates the potential for an increase. Measure K needed a two-thirds vote to pass and had fallen short under preliminary results Tuesday night.

All funds raised by both measures are meant to build a new Newcastle firehouse and provide pay increases and benefit packages for firefighters. Proponents of Measure B and the previous board members have stated that Measure K falls short monetarily, but those in support of Measure K have stated the fire board’s financial management is to blame on the district’s money problems.

Elder said Measure K would properly fund the new fire station in Newcastle because she will work to reduce spending in the district’s budget.

 “We’re looking for getting this fire station together and getting our community back together,” Elder said. “It has been quite a trip for us.”

Jordan said he was “pleasantly surprised” on Tuesday and that the first thing he and his fellow board members need to tackle is getting the temporary firehouse together.

“We have to find a home for these guys,” Jordan said.

In regard to Measure K, Jordan said its passage has always been secondary in importance to him when it comes to being elected to the board.

For a full report on the final results, check www.AuburnJournal.com and Thursday’s print edition.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.