Candidates Line Up for the Fire Board Recall

Not sure how to vote on the upcoming Recall Election? Here’s some useful information and a look at the candidate’s statements to help inform your vote.


Four candidates have filed to run in the Recall Election for the Coastside Fire Protection District (CFPD) that will be held April 9, 2013.

The election is being conducted to determine if Mike Alifano, Douglas Mackintosh and Gary Riddell, members of the board, should be recalled (removed) from office.

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 CalFire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. That contract expires at the end of June.

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

Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell contend CalFire 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. These three board members want to hold CalFire accountable to a contract they say CalFire has failed to uphold. They don’t want to let outside Sacramento money control the Coast’s local Fire Board and community.

CalFire proponents say a stand-alone fire department will be too costly and short-staffed and are emboldened by San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury reports that indicate CalFire 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 CalFire over the next five years, recall proponents said.

Read more about the debate here.

How the Recall Election Works

Voters in the Recall Election will be asked: "Do you want to recall (board member), and if so, who should replace him?" So during the April 9 Recall Election, voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on whether they think a specific officer — Alifano, Mackintosh and Riddell — should be recalled from his Coastside Fire Protection District board seat.

For each of the members to be recalled, there will also be the names of the candidates to succeed them. Voters then indicate “yes” or “no” for each of the proposed candidates.

The four people who have qualified to challenge the three include Karen Anderson, who is challenging Alifano; J.B. Cockrell, who is challenging Mackintosh; and Lee McKusick and Harvey Rarback, who are challenging Riddell.

Recall Election Candidate Statements

Each candidate submitted a statement of qualifications to the San Mateo County Elections Office at 200 words each.

Keep CalFire organizer Marshall Ketchum challenged Board President Doug Mackintosh and directors Gary Riddell and Mike Alifano on their candidate statements with the San Mateo County Elections Office for allegedly violating state elections law.

Ketchum filed a writ of mandate with the court to have the statements amended or removed from elections material provided by the county because the statements did not stick to background and qualifications but rather centered on issues that mar the district, according to a report in the San Mateo Daily Journal.

However, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram on Feb. 14, 2013, denied the challenge to the three candidate statements.

Still, Ketchum, who led the recall signature-gathering effort, alleged their candidate statements contained information that is false, misleading or inconsistent with state elections code. He asserts that the three candidate statements “falsely claims that CalFire's Union started these recalls,” he wrote on the Keep CalFire website. “ … I started these recalls, yet Judge Miram refused to order any changes to these candidate statements.”

State law dictates that any candidate's statement be limited to "a recitation of the candidate's own personal background and qualifications."

Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell's statements all contain material that stray from keeping to just background and touched on other topics such as a CalFire union effort to force the recall election and opinions related to CalFire's service.

According to the article in the San Mateo Daily Journal, Anderson, Cockrell, McKusick and Rarback's candidate statements are all similar to the incumbents, though, and also stray from their respective backgrounds and qualifications. Their statements were not challenged in court, however.

Still, the judge OKed the statements. Now you be the judge. Here they are to help inform your vote:


Shall Michael Alifano be recalled (removed) from the Office of Member, Board of Directors, Coastside Fire Protection District?

Mike Alifano

The Board of the Coastside Fire Protection District has made a policy decision to embrace a better service delivery model that meets the unique needs of the Coastside. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing, no graft; no reason for a recall other than CalFire's Union wants to control the Coastside Fire Protection District Board.

This recall effort is a bold power play by CalFire's Union to put into place people that are loyal only to them. CalFire has ultimately determined the level of service they can provide rather than the level set by the local Fire Board.

Do we want to be controlled by a State agency and its bureaucracy? CalFire has failed to perform by the terms of the contract that was mutually agreed upon for the last 5 years.

Now, when the Coastside Fire Protection District board directors need to hold CalFire accountable and compare CalFire to other options, CalFire's Union starts and funds a recall effort on the very fire board members that are critical of their performance.

I want to increase our level of service by bringing back a second ambulance, water rescue program, encouraging long-term local employees and most importantly, hiring a Fire Chief that works for the fire board and our community.


Director to succeed Mike Alifano if recalled; Coastside Fire Protection District

Karen Anderson

If you were to call 911 right now for an ambulance, a crew of CalFire professionals would rush to your aid. But, come July 1, no one knows who will come, because these board directors decided that CalFire's services were no longer needed. The outstanding fire fighters and paramedics of CalFire, who have worked tirelessly for this fire district, may now have to leave by June 30.

For a standalone department, approximately 31 full-time people need to be hired. Including relief staff, the requirement goes over 40. As I write this, not a single person has been hired or trained. After July 1, should an emergency occur when our fire stations are understaffed or unprepared, the nearest responders might have to drive from Pacifica or over the hill. Such a delay, or worse, a mistake, from a crew hastily cobbled could become life threatening.

The decision of these board members to ignore the wishes was reckless.

If elected, I will immediately take steps to restore our contract with CalFire. For detailed information about this situation, including my biography, please visit www.keepcalfire.com. You are also welcome to call me at (650) 440-7955. Thank you.

Shall A. Douglas Mackintosh be recalled (removed) from the Office of Member, Board of Directors, Coastside Fire Protection District?

Doug Mackintosh

No on recall for local control vs. state control. I have tried for years to work within the state-run, CalFire system, and have been very frustrated. The needs of the Coastside are unique and need a stable work force. In a state-run agency, there is easy movement of employees all over the state, and presently, as an example, one of our most valued employees, a long-term Coastside resident has been shifted away from the Coastside, in spite of our protests. Needed positions have also remained unfilled. During California fire season, our Coastside firefighters have been held (unable to go home) for three weeks straight because of California mandates to hold ALL firefighters employed by CalFire.

We have developed a timetable and a five-year conservative budget to insure that there is long-term sustainability with no new taxes and no reduction in service to the Coastside.

After careful study, debate and observation, l join with the other local businessman, Mike Alifano, and retired local firefighter, Gary Riddell, on the Board saying, “We can do better with a local fire department than the one run by the State of California!"


Director to succeed A. Douglas Mackintosh if recalled; Coastside Fire Protection District

JB Cockrell


I'm a 36-year resident of Montara with a longtime interest in fire and emergency services. | was a trained professional firefighter, served as a volunteer firefighter in the old Point Montara Fire District, and served on the CFPD board from 2007 to 2009. I was one of the directors who helped bring CaIFire to the Coastside, and l consider that the best thing that has happened for fire and emergency protective services here.

CalFire has improved service over and above what was provided by our previous, scandal-ridden stand-alone departments. The millions we have saved by contracting with CalFire have given us financially stable fire protection. Now, that money should be returned to the citizens by eliminating parcel taxes and enhancing services. Those benefits can only be accomplished by retaining CalFire.

| am a retired airline pilot and a current corporate pilot. My wife and I have raised two grown children here. | have the experience, qualifications, desire and motivation to represent the interests of the citizens while keeping costs under control. My highest priority will be to rebuild and secure this community's relationship with CalFire. Call me. (650) 440-7955.

Endorsed by CFPD directors Ginny McShane and Gary Burke.


Shall Gary Riddell be recalled (removed) from the Office of Member, Board of Directors, Coastside Fire Protection District?

Gary Riddell

The Board has a responsibility to ensure the best possible services are being provided to the community. Cal Fire failed to meet its legal obligations in our contract and the California Fire Code and its obligations as Fire Service provider. How does the largest fire agency in the State sign a contract then not provide those services specified in that contract? My number one priority is to ensure we are receiving the services we are paying for. If CalFire had those same priorities this contract would have worked but they did not. Further, community needs are subservient to the State and this will never change. It is time for the community to take back control of its ability to protect life and property.

Community needs are best determined by the community not the state, and when CalFire has the final say on what will and will not be done that is not local control. CalFire has failed to meet the needs of the Coastside as stated in the contract for more than four years. It’s time for us to build a better fire department and ensure that our local needs are met.


Director to succeed Gary Riddell if recalled; Coastside Fire Protection District

Harvey Rarback

San Mateo County has impaneled three civil grand juries that examined the Coastside Fire Protection District. The top conclusion of the most recent: “the residents of the CFPD are being well served by CalFire and CalFire deserves the full support of the CFPD Board, based upon performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility.” The other juries agreed.

TriData is the independent national consulting company that the Fire Board selected to conduct an operational review of the CFPD. Their conclusion: “CalFire is a nationally recognized organization with excellent resources. The District is receiving excellent service at a lower cost than if provided independently.”

Clay Lambert of the Half Moon Bay Review wrote that the Fire Board is “putting the district into reverse, toward another dysfunctional, expensive, crony-filled department.”

One after another, citizens have spoken at CFPD Board meetings, vigorously objecting to CalFire’s dismissal. Our community deserves a Board that listens to its citizens.

If elected, I will immediately vote to restore our contract with CalFire. For detailed information about this situation, including my own biography and list of endorsers, please visit www.KeepCalFire.org. You are also welcome to call me at (650) 440-7955. Thank you.


Director to succeed Gary Riddell if recalled; Coastside Fire Protection District

Lee McKusick

I am your neighbor living in El Granada. I am outraged that three Fire Protection District directors appear to be on a course of action to destroy the high quality fire protection the Coastside receives from CalFire on June 30th.

Feel safer and be safer: vote for Lee McKusick. As an elected Board member

I will work to retrieve the CalFire contract and carefully extend the contract for several years.

l studied System Analysis at UC Berkeley Extension and American Studies at Cal State Los Angeles. My amateur math interest is topology, chaos and fractals. I have disassembled smoke detectors to study the false alarms that ring every winter. I have completed CERT training and I participated in the   local amateur radio emergency service group.

The Coastside Fire Protection Board has been through a 10-year story of painful mergers and downsizing. For the firefighters there has been a painful loss of status and security. I favor geographic district election to force a geographic and community service focus on each Board member.

Lee McKusick. Blog: http://leemckusickforcfpdboard.blogspot.com/


Still Need More Information?

Vote No on the Recall campaign:

Click here for their Facebook page.

Click here for their website.

Keep CalFire campaign:

Click here for their Facebook page.

Click here for their website.

Do you have any questions on the Recall Election? Post them here in the comments section, and Patch will try to get the answers for you.

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