Cannon Beach fire execs stand pat

Mike Balzer

CANNON BEACH — A special election will be held in April on the recall of three Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District directors behind the firing of Mike Balzer as fire chief last October.

President Sharon Clyde and directors Linda Beck-Sweeney and Garry Smith chose to fight the recall rather than resign by Wednesday’s deadline.

Beck-Sweeney and Smith issued identical statements as Clyde — who announced her intention Tuesday — citing the board’s “fiduciary responsibility to those who elected them to provide a high level of oversight, particularly in matters of management and administration.”

Balzer was dismissed “when the majority of the directors, elected by district voters, became concerned about his ability to perform the administrative skills required of the head of a public agency,” according to the statements delivered to Clatsop County Clerk Valerie Crafard.

Clyde said the recall drive had a “chilling effect” on public awareness of the events prior to the termination.

Cannon Beach resident Susan Neuwirth, who initiated the recall, called the challenges “for the best.”

“Hopefully, it will settle this issue once and for all, either way,” Neuwirth said Wednesday. “If the townfolk want to reinstall them, then so be it. If they would like a fresh start after many years of the same guard, then so be it. At least there has been a lot of healthy conversation regarding the importance of sitting on any board and the decisions they make. I believe this is particularly true when it involves life and property.”

The special election is scheduled for April 5. If directors are recalled, the remaining board member or members would appoint new directors.

There are several residents who have expressed interest in serving, Neuwirth said.

“But since they weren’t certain of the outcome, nobody has officially thrown their hat in the ring,” Neuwirth said.

Neuwirth said she would be proud to serve “if people would like me to.”

“I’ll wait and see what kind of comments are made by the public and Fire Department,” Neuwirth added. “I do know this: The volunteers are very appreciative that all of this has come to light and the town has stood behind them. They will definitely have a much stronger voice in their department in the future.”

Lyra Fontaine contributed to this report.