Saginaw firefighter contests fire board election results

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, July 13, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A captain with the Saginaw Volunteer Fire Department said he is looking to contest the results of a July 12 election to determine who will serve on the department’s board of directors.

The election was ordered by a judge in early June after Capt. Corey Baginski sued the board, claiming a board election held in December 2010 was illegal.

As a result of the judge’s ruling, the July 12 election was open only to those who live in the Saginaw coverage area, are registered voters and who currently pay dues to the department. The election was also open to the department’s 12 current firefighters.

In the election, which drew about 220 voters, incumbent board members Joe Acker, J.D. King, Michael Minor and Steve Hall were elected to the new board. Non-incumbent candidate Ron Luebke was also elected.

Luebke, Acker, Hall and Minor ran uncontested in the election, but King’s seat was contested by candidate Paul Gray.

“In the one position where there was competition, the existing board member was elected by a large margin,” said Acker, the board’s president.

But Baginski claimed some voters were wrongly forced to vote via provisional ballots when they should have instead voted on regular ballots.

“We had several people come to vote yesterday that were wrongly made to vote on a provisional ballot,” Baginski said. “They were told that they had not paid their dues, or that their landlord is the one paying dues.

“Some of those people have not received a dues request in the 20-plus years they have been living there in the area,” Baginski added. “I am on my way to talk to my lawyer about it now. Hopefully we can get this contested.”

Acker said the poll workers at the Saginaw Community Center checked voters’ names against a registered voters list obtained from the Alabama secretary of state’s office, a department dues list and a fire district address list.

“If an individual (voter) did not meet the criteria, but felt they did for some reason, we let them vote on a provisional ballot,” Acker said. “At the end of the day, we counted the provisional ballots, and they did not change the outcome of the election in any way.”

“It is somewhat foolish to raise the issue that some people were not able to vote,” Acker added.

The newly elected board will be charged with re-writing the department’s by-laws and seeking dues from those in the coverage area.

“We need to get on with business, and get this behind us,” Acker said. “I hope this is the end of it, and we can get on with getting the bylaws written and getting dues letters out to residents.”