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Gates, McMahon leading in fire district race

It appears William T. Gates and Melvin McMahon will advance to the Nov. 6 General Election in the Position 3 Federal Way fire commission race. Tom D. Payne was trailing Gates and McMahon as polls closed Tuesday. The top two vote getters advance to the November election. Gates had the edge when polls closed Tuesday, but final election results won't be certified until Sept. 28, when all absentee ballots will be counted. Gates said he'd continue to talk to people to get the word out on his campaign as the General Election approaches. I'm really not going to change too much, he said. On the other hand, McMahon plans to do more door knocking, send out a mailer and buy newspaper ads. I'm going to probably be right up there at 10 to 12 (thousand dollars,) he said of his overall campaign. He said the expense would be worth it. It's something that's really dear to me, he said, adding he has lots of time to devote to the commission. He said he wants to do more than show up for meetings - he wants to go out into the community frequently so he has a better sense of what people want and need. Gates said he has no plans to pump up his campaign spending. He's spent about $1,100 so far, and cannot exceed $3,500, according to the forms he filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. As the Nov. 6 election approaches, Gates plans to point out the need for a board that's well rounded and represents many facets of the community. He said the board already has two retired firefighters, and placing opponent McMahon on it would make that weight too heavy. I think that's too much, he said. That doesn't give you a well-rounded board. ... The job of the board is not to know how to go out and fight fires. Gates cites his experience on the King County Library System Board of Directors (1989-1993 and 1995-1999) and past stint on the Cosmopolis School Board as advantages. That experience will be important Gates said, as the commission will hammer out a new five-year plan in 2002. However, McMahon said being a firefighter gives him the edge. It gives you the insight to look at what's going on, he said, citing the fact that the board will make decisions that affect firefighters' safety. ... You've got to kind of have an insight of what's going on. It's an inherently dangerous job. Gates said the rescue efforts following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could sway voters to choose a firefighter as the November election approaches, but cautioned against that emotional reaction. Firefighters are looked upon as heroes now, which they are, Gates said. But again people have to keep in mind that as a commission we do not go out and fight fire.

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