Challenger questions Water District 49 Commissioner’s meeting absences
Most – but not all – water and sewer district meetings are fairly routine. Commissioners take care of the ratepayers’ business, then go home.
But the Aug. 28 King County Water District 49 commission meeting proved to be an exception.
Water District 49 serves downtown Burien and several surrounding neighborhoods.
Commissioner Dave Lutz, who is seeking re-election to a six-year term, was criticized during public comment at the meeting by his challenger, Roger Gee, who claimed Lutz has been absent too many times – 21 meetings – to adequately serve district ratepayers.
“I don’t think the residents of this district want a part-time commissioner going through the motions,” Gee said in prepared remarks while confronting Lutz. “What that tells me is that you don’t care. I can understand now why I was asked to run. There has to be a change.”
Lutz received 54.4 percent of the vote in the Aug. 6 primary to outdistance Gee, who finished second with 27.61 percent.
But, countered Lutz, he had been absent numerous times and had also missed work for medical reasons.
“You guys know about it and that’s why I missed meetings,” Lutz said to commission President Tom Jovanovich and Commissioner Ray Brickell. “I don’t feel I have to explain myself but now I feel I have to.”
“How in the heck would you keep a job?” Gee asked Lutz after noting he has missed 21 meetings since 2008.
“In your statements at the last meeting, you were adamant that you have never had an unexcused absence,” Gee said. But “public records show you have had eight unexcused absences. Why? On top of that you have had 13 excused absences. How in the world does the district hope to get things done?”
Lutz explained to The B-Town Blog following the meeting that his absences were the result of three separate accidents in recent years and medical complications stemming from them.
In a motorcycle accident Lutz dislocated a knee and suffered other injuries.
Two other accidents were work related. A long-time builder, he got a piece of metal in a hand while cutting aluminum track for a closet, and then broke an ankle when a rotted scaffolding board broke and sent him falling one story to the ground.
“Personal and politics is two different things,” Lutz added as why he doesn’t talk about the reason for his meeting absences.