GNH Lumber February 2024

G’town voters turn out for fire commissioner race

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GERMANTOWN–Annual elections for fire district commissioners in any town are usually quiet affairs, with perhaps two-dozen firefighters and their friends and family voting.

Tuesday’s election in the Germantown Fire District, however, drew two candidates and, ultimately, 225 voters, 10 times the usual number.

Patrick Ebling won the election with 128 votes. Coming in second, as he put it, was George Sharpe Sr. with 97.

Mr. Ebling, 53, is an active firefighter with the Germantown Hose Company #1, the town’s sole fire company, and deputy superintendent of the town Highway Department.

He ran for the unpaid post, he said, because “I’m level-headed, and it’s one of those jobs that no matter what decision you make, someone is going to be mad at you,” either the firefighters or the taxpayers who support the district with property taxes.

Mr. Sharpe, 66, described his run as a “last hurrah.” A lifetime, 48-year member of the fire company, he won election for town supervisor for some 23 years, from 1978 to 2001.

State law does not allow towns to provide their residents with fire protection as a municipal function. Instead, as in the case of Germantown, a fire district provides fire protection. Each fire district has five commissioners who serve a five-year terms. Retiring from the board at the end of this year is longtime commissioner Richard Von Der Osten.

Residents of the fire district who are registered to vote elect the commissioners in a fire district election held annually on the second Tuesday in December.

The commissioners appoint the members of the fire companies within the district, and “may provide for the removal of those members for cause,” according to nyslocalgov.org. “The commissioners also organize, operate, maintain and equip fire companies,” states the website.

Mr. Ebling saw the commissioners’ main responsibility as fiduciary. “We keep an eye on all the spending,” he said.

 

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