Representatives of Local 876 of the International Association of Firefighters have moved forward with a challenge to the voter registration of Spokane Valley Fire Department commission chairman Monte Nesbitt.
Nesbitt announced last month that he will resign from the fire commission at the end of the year after the union raised questions about whether Nesbitt lives within the Fire Department’s boundaries. In announcing his resignation Aug. 13, Nesbitt said that he and his wife, whom he married last year, have been trying to sell her home in Cheney.
Nesbitt said previously that he registered to vote at his daughter’s home on East 26th Avenue in Spokane Valley in October 2011 because he was living in an apartment in Spokane Valley at the time and wasn’t sure where he would end up.
Nesbitt said he’ll explain during a hearing scheduled on the issue that he planned to move back into the district when the house in Cheney sold, but that hasn’t happened. “I’m not going to fight it,” he said.
Local 876 president Don Kresse said the union felt it had to move forward with the voter registration challenge even though Nesbitt has announced he will resign his seat. Nesbitt is setting a bad example about accountability and adherence to rules and regulations, Kresse said.
“He has already done the crime and moved out of the district,” he said. “With the information we have I don’t see how he can stay a registered voter in the Valley. If he had any ability to prove we were wrong, he wouldn’t have submitted a letter of resignation.”
In a letter to Nesbitt dated Sept. 4, Kresse wrote that the union “has no confidence that you will proceed with your resignation as proposed 31 December given your record of behavior regarding this matter.”
Kresse said it is apparent that some of the other commissioners and department staffers knew Nesbitt had moved out of the district and did nothing about it. “We just decided as a local that this was something we were forced to do,” he said. “Of course, we look like the bad guys. That is not what we were after at all.”
Nesbitt said he thought the issue of his voter registration had been settled when he announced his resignation. “They wanted my resignation so I gave them my resignation,” he said. “We all thought, well, that’s the end of that. We were wrong, I guess.”
Nesbitt said the department has been dealing with several disciplinary issues lately and that he believes the union wants him off the commission because of the way he has been voting.
“They want to get rid of my votes,” he said. “They just want to get me out sooner, is what I think.”
Nesbitt said he decided to retire at the end of December to provide continuity on the commission on upcoming issues, including decisions on discipline. “They don’t think I’m going to retire,” he said. “Right now, that’s my intent.”
A hearing on the voter registration challenge is scheduled for Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. at the Spokane County Elections Office.