A judge yesterday denied a challenge to candidate statements filed by three members of the Coastside Fire Protection District board who face recall this April.
Board President Doug Mackintosh and directors Gary Riddell and Mike Alifano filed candidate statements with the San Mateo County Elections Office that were challenged by coastsider Marshall Ketchum 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.
Mackintosh, Riddell and Alifano voted last year to end its relationship with Cal Fire in favor of re-establishing a new stand-alone fire department. Directors Ginny McShane and Gary Burke voted against the idea. A signature-gathering process started soon after on the coast to have the three directors removed.
Ketchum, who led the signature-gathering effort, alleged their candidate statements contained information that is false, misleading or inconsistent with state elections code.
But San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram denied Ketchum's petition.
Ketchum wrote to the Daily Journal in an email yesterday that he was disappointed in Miram's decision but will not appeal it.
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 Cal Fire union effort to force the recall election and opinions related to Cal Fire's service.
Four people have qualified to challenge the three, including Karen Anderson, who is challenging Alifano; J.B. Cockrell, who is challenging MacKintosh; and Lee McKusick and Harvey Rarback, who are challenging Riddell in the upcoming special recall election April 9.
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.
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.
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