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January 21, 2013


By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal


Candidates line up for fire board recall



Three candidates have filed to run in the special recall election for the Coastside Fire Protection District that will be held April 9.

The election is being conducted to determine if Michael Alifano, Douglas Mackintosh and Gary Riddell, members of the board, shall be recalled from office.


If a majority of the recall vote is affirmative as to any of the three offices, the election shall also determine the successor for the recalled seat on the board.


Interested candidates must decide which of the three seats they wish to hold.


Others interested in pursuing a seat on the district's board of directors have until Jan. 24 to file their nomination papers with the San Mateo County Elections Office.


So far, Karen Anderson has filed to run against Alifano while Lee McKusick and Harvey Rarback have filed to run against Riddell. Rarback lost a bid for a seat on the Half Moon Bay City Council in November.


Mackintosh, the board's chair, does not yet have a challenger.


Alifano, Mackintosh and Riddell are facing recall for their effort to re-establish a stand-alone fire department on the coast while doing away with the district's contract with Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. That contract expires at the end of June.


The close of candidate filing period Jan. 24 also marks the opening of the 10-day public review period when any member of the public has the opportunity to review candidate filing documents and statements.


Any registered voter of the election jurisdiction, or the elections official, may seek a writ of mandate or injunction requiring any or all of the materials to be amended or deleted. The public review period will run from Jan. 24 to Feb. 3, leading up to the April 9 special election.


The board moved last year to ditch its contract with Cal Fire on a 3-2 vote, with Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell voting in the affirmative and Gary Burke and Ginny McShane voting against the proposal.


Voters will likely be asked: "Do you want to recall (board member), and if so, who should replace him."


Cal Fire proponents say a stand-alone fire department will be too costly and short-staffed and are emboldened by a San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury reports that indicated Cal Fire serves the coast well.


A stand-alone fire department will rely on unbudgeted overtime and will cost at least $1.4 million per year more than Cal Fire over the next five years, recall proponents said.


But Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell contend Cal Fire is not responsive to the needs of the coast and would be better served by having a fire chief who answers directly to the board.


The Coastside Fire Protection District serves Half Moon Bay, the unincorporated areas of Half Moon Bay and the unincorporated communities of Miramar, El Granada, Princeton-by-the-Sea, Moss Beach and Montara.


Previously, the Half Moon Bay Fire Protection District and Point Montara Fire Protection District provided service on the coast but the two consolidated in 2007 to form the Coastside Fire Protection District.