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Fire board faces recall election
November 30, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

Three directors on the Coastside Fire Protection District board will face a recall election in the coming months as the San Mateo County Elections Office verified Wednesday enough signatures were valid for the recall effort to move forward.

Doug Mackintosh, Mike Alifano and Gary Riddell face an ouster after pushing forward with establishing a stand-alone fire department on the coast. The board moved earlier this year to ditch its contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on a 3-2 vote, with Mackintosh, Alifano and Riddell voting in the affirmative.

Marshall Ketchum, who heads the recall effort, wants to stay with Cal Fire and turned in nearly 10,000 signatures in October to the County Elections Office.

At least 2,714 signatures on each petition needed to be validated by the Elections Office for a recall election to take place, likely early next year.

Ketchum reported on the website keepcalfire.com that 3,290 signatures were collected to recall Alifano, 3,366 signatures were collected for Riddell and 3,327 were collected for Mackintosh, the current president of the board.

Many of those signatures were invalidated but not enough to keep a recall election from taking place.

Alifano received 2,862 certified signatures to place him on the ballot for recall, Macintosh received 2,883 certified signatures and Riddell received 2,908 certified signatures, according to the Elections Office.

The three voted in July to form a stand-alone fire department and to start searching for a new fire chief with fellow board members Gary Burke and Ginny McShane voting against the proposal.

The board called a meeting for Monday to set a date for the recall election.

Voters will likely be asked: "Do you want to recall Alifano, and if so, who should replace him,” Alifano told the Daily Journal yesterday.

Alifano plans to campaign vigorously to keep his seat.

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 report 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 it would be better served by having a fire chief who answers directly to the board.

The Cal Fire contract expires in June 2013.

The election will cost taxpayers $130,000.

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.


Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.


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