KEIZERTIMES/Andrew Jackson

This story has been corrected. See end of story for full correction.

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Supporters of Keizer Fire and Marion County Fire District No. 1 have spent more than $17,000 – and have plenty more cash on hand – to persuade voters their agency should protect the Clear Lake neighborhood.

Voters have until March 13 to submit their ballot for two special election measures which would, as written, take territory in north Keizer from MCFD and give it to KFD. Marion County Fire District has filed suit in Marion County Circuit Court, which could affect the election’s ultimate outcome.

The political action committee supporting the measures, Friends of Keizer Fire District, has $6,570 on hand, while opposing committee Keep Keizer Safe has $3,908, according to figures from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. Numbers were current as of Tuesday, March 6.

Major contributors to Friends of Keizer Fire include the agency’s union, which has contributed $5,000. In contrast, Marion County Fire District No. 1’s union has not made a contribution. The union and agency have had extensive problems, with the union voting no confidence in Chief Kevin Henson just last year. The union also unsuccessfully backed two candidates to replace board members Randy Franke and Orville Downer. Union President Kris Boyer didn’t return a request for comment.

Franke said he was mystified why MCFD’s union would sit out the election.

“You’d have to ask them why they’d sit out a situation that’s going to cost union jobs in the end if we lose,” Franke said.

Robert Blackmore, Keizer Fire’s attorney on this issue, chipped in $10,000. Joe Van Meter, president of the KFD board, said Blackmore’s contribution was to cover sending information to all Keizer households because the group missed a filing deadline to have arguments for the measure included in the county’s voter pamphlet.

For MCFD, the department’s volunteer association is its biggest contributor, chipping in $6,500. Board members Randy Franke, Bernie Otjen and Wayne Miller have all made cash contributions. Franke said some 40 individuals, mostly from the Clear Lake area, have contributed $100 or less.

In major spending, Marion County Fire spent $2,581 with Astley Consulting Group, $1,058 with Towers Marketing and $732 with Jackie Franke, wife of MCFD Board President Randy Franke.

Randy Franke said his wife has been active in local Republican politics as well as his campaigns for county commissioner for decades.

Full disclosure: Both have purchased advertising with the Keizertimes, with MCFD spending $630 and KFD purchasing $1,857.

Both PACs have also spent cash on printing and mailing.

The print version of this story erroneously reported Keizer Fire spent some $5,000 with a firm called Adams and Associates. While the spending did take place, it occurred in 2009 and was unrelated to the current election. We apologize for the error.