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The Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 17 is a five member governing body that is responsible for making the legislative decisions for the fire district and providing oversight of the administrative operations as authorized by the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 52.14.

Each Commissioner is voted into office by registered voters who reside in the fire districts jurisdiction and when elected serve a term of 6 years. The terms are staggered to maintain continuity on the board.

Meetings of the Board of Commissioners are bound by RCW 42.30 Open Public Meetings Act and are open to the public.

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Gary Chandler

Term Expires: 12/31/2028

Gary began serving as a Fire Commissioner in January 2022 as a newly elected official.  Gary served a Firefighter/EMT for 29 years with the former Lake Stevens Fire Department before he retired in 2017.  Gary is a graduate of Everett High School and Everett Community College.  In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his Wife, 3 kids and 3 corgis.

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Rick Hjelle 


Term Expires: 12/31/2023

Rick began serving as Fire Commissioner in October 2019 to fill the newly created Position 5 as approved by the voters in August of the same year.  Rick previously served as a volunteer and full-time Firefighter with Fire Disrict 17 beginning in April 1978.  Rick served as Fire Chief for the Distirct from 1989 until his retirement in 2009.  

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Ron Stephenson

Term Expires: 12/31/2023

Ron began serving as Fire Commissioner in May 2015 to fill a position vacancy. Ron was then elected to the 2-year unexpired term which began in 2016.  In 2017 Ron was elected to serve a full 6-year term. Ron earned a Bachelor Degree in International Business from the University of Washington and also attended Everett Community College. Ron is retired from Boeing after 32 years of service, including 25 years in leadership. Ron is active in the Granite Falls community and also serves as a planning commissioner for the City of Granite Falls.  Ron has been married to his wife, DeAnne for 45 years and has three children and three grandchildren. 

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Jesse James

Term Expires: 12/31/2028

Jesse was elected Fire Commissioner and began serving his six year term in January 2016.  Jesse retired from Snohomish County Public Works in 2003 following 28 years of employment.  Jesse also provided 25 years of dedicated service as a volunteer firefighter with Fire District 17 (1977-2002), the last 14 years as Assistant Fire Chief.  Jesse enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, gardening, building bird houses and spending time with his family. 

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Rick Ainley


Term Expires: 12/31/2025

Rick was elected Fire Commissioner and began serving his six-year term in January 2020. Rick previously served as a volunteer and full-time firefighter with Fire District 17 beginning his volunteer service in February 1981, hired full-time in 1995 and retired in 2018.  

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