By LORE CHRISTOPHER

As Mayor of your city, I am proud to call this city home. In the last 22 years we have raised three children, relocated a grandmother and helped several close friends move to this gem of a city. Safety has always been a selling point for our city and has personally allowed me peace on nights when my kids attended McNary High School’s annual all-night graduation party or after a lengthy council meeting.

Clear Lake neighborhood residents are not currently afforded this same security and safety. During the past year there has been fierce debate from outside our city about fire service. Keizer has 37,000 residents and all but 1,000 receive their fire service from the Keizer Fire District. Clear Lake neighbors play on the same baseball teams, pay the same water and power utilities and are protected by the same police department. Why should fire service be any different? Every resident deserves local and reliable services. We must bring our Clear Lake neighborhood, into the same fire district as all of Keizer, at no additional cost to residents.

I have been concerned about the management and leadership of the Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD#1) for some time. In the past year, negotiations with MCFD#1 have escalated to the point of legal action. Their actions have clearly shown deliberate action to prevent our city from our right to vote on the services we rely on to keep us safe. Our neighbors need your help. My position on this issue was formed by serious events that show poor judgment and job performance by the management and leadership of Marion County Fire District #1.

• MCFD’s chief carrying a loaded gun in an unlocked compartment in a fire service vehicle.

• MCFD’s chief wrecking a fire service vehicle at taxpayer expense due to driving at excessive speeds.

• The Marion County Fire District board’s unilateral cancellation of a contract with Keizer Fire to provide EMS service to our Clear Lake neighborhood.  Keizer Fire District still provides this service through the mutual aid provision in the law.  Their costs increase to do so without any compensation, and that increases the cost for all of Keizer.

• MCFD’s board filing four separate law suits against the City of Keizer to stop a fair election by all voters within our city limits at a cost of $300,000 in tax payer dollars this year alone. The City of Keizer was forced to defend these frivolous lawsuits at additional tax payer expense.  Three have been dismissed, one is pending.

• MCFD’s board chair engaging a Salem state representative in a plot to push through a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would cancel our scheduled election and prevent all of Keizer voting on this issue.

I know many of you will agree that these actions by Marion County Fire District are reckless and frightening.  In Keizer, these actions would be deemed unacceptable by each of you—we expect safety, security and consistently good judgment from our fire service providers and we get it with Keizer Fire District. Our fellow residents need the local attention and safety only a local fire department can bring.

Make your voice heard by voting to have our own Clear Lake neighborhood, already within our city limits, receive fire service from the Keizer Fire District. They deserve honest, fair, reliable and safe fire service management and leadership at the same tax rate as the rest of Keizer.  We need to take care of our neighbors by voting yes, twice.  Once, to change the boundary to allow them to be part of the Keizer Fire District and then yes again to accept them into the Keizer Fire District as a customer.  Join me in taking care of all members of our community by voting YES, twice… lives depend on it.

Ms. Christopher is the mayor of Keizer.