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Another hat in the ring: Fire marshal is running for mayor

San Juan County Fire Marshal Bob Low said Thursday he will run for mayor of Friday Harbor in November.

Low, a former town fire chief, said he expected to make a formal announcement Friday.

His candidacy means that for the first time since 1997, voters will have a choice of more than one candidate for mayor: Gary Boothman ran unopposed in 2001; David Jones ran unopposed in 2005.

Town Council member Carrie Lacher announced her candidacy Monday in a bid to become the first woman mayor in the town’s 100-year history.

Besides serving as fire marshal, Low is also an elected hospital district commissioner.

Low was the town’s first full-time, salaried fire chief; the position was formerly volunteer. During his tenure, he resisted efforts to merge the town and district fire departments, and won praise for his leadership during the May 2002 fire at First and Spring streets. When the county’s fire districts took over responsibility for the fire marshal’s post, Low was recommended for the job by then-District 3 fire chief Bill McLaughlin, who had often squabbled with Low over management, merger and response issues.

The primary election is Aug. 18. The general election is Nov. 3. Besides the office of mayor, others on the ballot are council positions held by Liz Illg; Anna Maria de Freitas, who is completing an unexpired term; and Christopher Wolf, who is leaving to teach in Qatar.

The mayor is paid $148 per meeting, with a maximum of four meetings per month (council members receive $85 per meeting).

The mayor is the chief executive of the town. The mayor has ultimate hire and fire authority, although most of that responsibility is delegated to the town administrator.

The mayor has the authority to appoint members of town commissions and committees, although the mayor has traditionally sought the endorsement of the Town Council.

The mayor works with the town administrator and town treasurer to write the budget, but the budget is approved by the Town Council. The mayor also presides over Town Council meetings, but can vote only to break a tie.

More details to come.

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