REDWOOD CITY -- A judge on Thursday denied a petition to force three members of the Coastside Fire Protection District board of directors who are facing a recall election to rewrite their candidate statements.

Marshall Ketchum -- a supporter of the recall campaign against board members Mike Alifano, Doug Mackintosh and Gary Riddell -- had argued that the incumbents' official statements violated election law in part by referring to other candidates by name and making false assertions. The candidate statements also made numerous references to Cal Fire, whose contract with the district is at the heart of the recall, instead of sticking to descriptions of the candidates' background and qualifications, Ketchum claimed.

But San Mateo County Superior Court Judge George Miram ruled that Ketchum failed to meet a statutory requirement of "clear and convincing proof" in favor of his argument. Miram said the statements by the incumbents about Cal Fire are relevant to their candidacies and striking them might infringe on their freedom of political speech.

"That's what this whole election's about," Miram said regarding Cal Fire, which in the view of Alifano, Mackintosh and Riddell has failed to lived up to its contract with the district. The candidates running to replace the three men -- Karen Anderson, J.B. Cockrell, Lee McKusick and Harvey Rarback -- want to maintain the district's contract with Cal Fire, while the incumbents have attempted to sever it.


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Ketchum said in an email that he was disappointed by Miram's ruling but will not appeal it.

The recall election is slated for April 9.

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.