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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Retired school superintendent faces former student in election

The race for the only contested seat on the Spokane Valley Fire Department commission is between the former superintendent of the Central Valley School District and one of his former students.

Mike Pearson retired from Central Valley after 30 years that saw him move from teacher to the district’s top job. He retired in 2008. His opponent Kristopher Pockell, who filed as a Libertarian even though the position is nonpartisan, graduated from Central Valley High School in 2006.

Pearson said he got involved in the fire department because he wanted to do things he is passionate about. He was appointed to a vacant seat on the fire commission in 2012 and ran for election unopposed in 2013.

“Now I’m probably more passionate about it than I was back then,” he said. “I like it.”

The department is in good shape financially because it has no debt, but Pearson said he worries about rising workers’ compensation costs and is trying to get the state to release cost estimates earlier so the department can plan its budget.

He said he will continue to work to address issues that affect the department’s score by the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau, a nonprofit that provides property underwriting and rating information for the insurance industry. Doing so would likely result in cheaper home insurance for residents.

Pearson said he has experience working in a large organization that has a significant annual budget. “I think I ask a lot of questions as a commissioner because I want to learn,” he said. “Do I know everything? Absolutely not.”

Pockell, who applied for a vacant Spokane Valley City Council seat earlier this year, did not respond to repeated requests for interviews. He works as as a machinist and is involved in the state and local Libertarian Party.

In a statement he provided to the Spokane County Elections Office, Pockell wrote that he believes in limited taxation, private property and free markets. On a campaign website Pockell calls himself “a better choice for freedom” and said he is determined to do everything he can to “fix our broken government.”

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