HALF MOON BAY -- Three members of the Coastside Fire Protection District board of directors appeared Tuesday night to be on their way out of office, according to early returns from the San Mateo County Elections Office.
Several thousand mail and precinct ballots tallied by election officials showed Mike Alifano, Douglas Mackintosh and Gary Riddell losing their individual fights to keep their seats by significant margins. Voters were asked first whether each director should be recalled and then to select a replacement.
Alifano was challenged by Karen K. Anderson, a private investigator; Mackintosh was challenged by J.B. Cockrell, a pilot; and Riddell was challenged by Lee McKusick, a teacher's aide, and Harvey Rarback, a retired scientist. Anderson, Cockrell and Rarback appeared to be headed for victory Tuesday.
The three board members were targeted for recall over their push to end the district's contract with Cal Fire for fire services. If they lose, Cal Fire will continue to serve 30,000 people in Half Moon Bay and the surrounding region.
Reached by phone Tuesday night, Anderson said she was "ecstatic" about the results, adding that bringing back Cal Fire will be the "first order of business" once the bitterly contested election is over.
"Truth and integrity always win out," she said.
The "No on Recall" campaign raised $49,750 as of March 29. More than half the money came from firefighters unions throughout the Bay Area, including $15,000 from the San Mateo County Firefighters Local 2400, which aims to represent the Coastside instead of Cal Fire.
Anderson, Cockrell and Rarback each received more than $9,000 in direct and indirect support from the union representing Cal Fire firefighters.
Alifano, Mackintosh and Riddell claimed Cal Fire was not responsive to the district's needs. But the citizens behind the recall argued that the board majority was looking for any justification to get rid of Cal Fire, saying it was providing a better service than the district's old stand-alone department -- and at a cheaper cost.
Cal Fire took over fire services for the district in 2008 when the local fire department was in disarray. A 2011 study by an independent consultant and a 2012 report by the San Mateo County civil grand jury both determined Cal Fire was doing a good job and recommended that the district maintain its relationship with the state agency.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.