News


Menlo fire district: Carpenter, Bernstein, Ianson elected

Three candidates who had run as a slate in opposition to two union-supported candidates were elected Tuesday to seats on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District board of directors.

With all 66 precincts reporting, former director Peter Carpenter received 3,771 votes, newcomer Chuck Bernstein, 3,488, and incumbent Rex Ianson, 3,353.

Mr. Bernstein, who was still knocking on doors in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto on Tuesday evening, attributed his win to hard work, endorsements and being on the right side of the union issue.

"The union already has one side of the table and, for them to try to dominate the residents' side, is asking for too much," Mr. Bernstein said. "I think people who are deeply involved as well as people who are uninvolved can see the problem with this."

Coming in fourth and fifth were incumbent Jack Nelson (3,092 votes) and Carolyn Clarke (2,785 votes).

Ms. Clarke said she had no comment when asked for her thoughts on the outcome.

The fire district serves Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and nearby unincorporated areas.

The union issue came to a head when Mr. Carpenter entered the race at the last minute, stating that he was running to prevent a board majority from being in the hands of union-backed members. The district and firefighters have been embroiled in a years-long impasse over their contract, with the two parties fighting over how much of a salary increase the firefighters should get.

Aside from the question of union endorsement, the candidates have broad goals in common and somewhat similar backgrounds. All want to keep the district's financial stability and high level of service, and settle the contract dispute. With the exception of Ms. Clarke, the candidates have extensive experience, whether professional or volunteer, in emergency preparedness.

Comments

Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:54 am

Congratulations Messrs. Carpenter, Bernstein, and Ianson.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:42 am

Yes, congratulations gentlemen.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:49 am

Congratulations, gentlemen! Thank you for your service to the community!

Also, many thanks to the Almanac for their reporting on this race! They brought out many interesting facts and did a great job in terms of "investigative journalism." Sandy Brundage is awesome!


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:15 am

Congratulations to "the slate." For the second time, the voters of this district have sent a clear and convincing message to the union leadership. We cannot continue with unsustainable benefits and pensions.

Now, the real work begins and I wish these elected officials the very best.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:50 am

"No comment" from Ms. Clarke? Not even an offer of congratulations to her opponents?

Classy.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:53 am

I share all the sentiments of the previous posters, congratulations and many thanks for volunteering to serve. I also want to add my thanks to the voters in the district who got this one right. My sincere hope is that union leadership will heed the message this represents and come to the table to negotiate a contract that is fair to their members, and at the same time equitable and sustainable for the tax paying public.


Posted by comments, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Clarke may not have a comment, but Peter Carpenter made a comment to the post that Nelson and Clarker were not honest and did not follow the rules.

Way to keep it classy Peter Carpenter.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter made a comment to the post that Nelson and Clarker were not honest and did not follow the rules." Correct.

Elections in a democracy require that candidates follow the rules - there is nothing classy in failing to timely report expenditures, not using proper disclaimers on signs and robocalls and using an illegal designation for one's occupation. The voters expect better and they showed that in how they voted.


Posted by say more, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote, "...not using proper disclaimers on signs and robocalls.."

Can you be more specific? What exactly was not proper about the signs and robocalls?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Telephone Advertisements: Section 84310 was added to the Act by AB 2275 (Chapter 439, Stats. 2006) requiring candidates and committees that use campaign funds to make 500 or more telephone calls to disclose the name of the person or organization that authorized or paid for the call. A script of the call or a copy of a recorded telephone message must be kept by the committee for four years."

"(5) Posters, door hangers, and yard signs produced in quantities of more than 200."


Posted by trust, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Peter's signs were all over the city in public right of way places. Just a slimy manipulation of the law. It is illegal to have your sign up on Middlefield Ave. in the right of way space. Saying the back fence of a homeowner is connected, is blatant BS. And this is just one. Bernstein was part of this slime in the elections. Same stuff. But run against unions and you can be a slack jawed idiot and win these days.

These guys will take the same approach they have in the past. No listening. No admission of wrong. Just talk over you and sell that slick ideology.

Sad day. Peter is terrible for all of us. A cancer to the political system.


Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

my, Comment, are we mad that your candidates didn't get elected. Are we a little bitter?? The citizens made the correct decision.

congratulations to Carpenter, Bernstein and Ianson.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong - The Atherton Town Attorney long ago confirmed that Atherton had decided not to prohibit signs in such locations on First Amendment grounds.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Well, its obvious from the "sour grape" comments in these latest posts from trust(sic), saymore and comments that the hope I expressed previously that the union would have gotten the message and go to the table and negotiate a fair agreement for their membership is a pipe dream. Instead, same old tired strategy; baseless claims on issues that have nothing to do with resolving the key issues involved in getting a new contract for their membership or serving the public good. So what are you going to do, keep this crap up for another couple of years until there is another seat on board open for election. If I were a dues paying member of this union, I would be filing a complaint with the appropriate authorities to put these union leaders behind bars. Election is over, you lost, get over it and get on with PROPERLY representing your members.


Posted by trust, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Peter, in Menlo Park we did not. And you should respect the rules of the district. You put those signs up where anyone on the MP side of the street saw them and it is the same [portion removed - discuss the topic without personal attacks] manipulation of the rules and laws that you always use. I will be watching you and Chuck and I will be challenging you. I think you both will be historic in your failure.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is always so enlightening to have anonymous people spout off about things like trust and to attack people who have the courage to come out in public. I welcome being held accountable.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Is "trust" the current firefighters union president? Enquiring minds and all that. I can understand why they'd be upset after dumping all that money down a rat hole trying to rig the fire board with their hand picked candidates.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

BTW 'trust' - 3771 voters disagree with you as did 8,567 voters in 2005.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Is "trust" the current firefighters union president?"

No he is not. I know the firefighters' union president and he is in fact a trustworthy and honest person.


Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

But not Trust, must be a fireman who needs to find a new job.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Congratulations to the Slate.


Posted by comments, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Sorry, none of these candidates can be considered hand picked, although Scott Barnum was hand picked by Peter in 2011. To be hand picked, there would need to be a group of viable candidates that want to be on this board.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 6, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Trust -

If you feel so strongly, I suggest you run for office in two years and take extra care to make sure your signs are properly located. In the interim, you should note that this election wasn't even close.

Elections have consequences and the people have spoken quite clearly.


Posted by reality, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:17 am

Pogo, you are correct, the people have spoken, but it was the "white" people, not the "black and brown" people. Carolyn and Jack came in 1st and 2nd place in every precinct in East Palo Alto. With a city council race in Atherton, and a bond measure for Las Lomitas, so many more people came out in Atherton, even though East Palo Alto has more voters. See for yourself Web Link East Palo Alto is 4001 to 4015 and Atherton is 3001 to 3010.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2013 at 7:02 am

reality:

so what's your point? The white man's keepin' the black and brown man down again? What a bunch of nonsense. If those voters want their voices heard and they have a larger number of voters then, perhaps they should exercise their franchise. How do you know a lot of voters from EPA didn't vote for the slate that was elected? Unless of course you're a bigot and assume that black and brown people only vote for black and brown candidates.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

Reality:

The reality is that low voter turnout seems to be the norm in EPA and Belle Haven where Clarke is from. Period. I have friends who live in both EPA and Belle Haven. Even though Clarke and Nelson may have received the most votes in those areas, the communities were still split because my non-Caucasian friends there refused to be stuck in the same "victim mentality" as you. They did their research and voted for Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson- the most qualified candidates in this race!


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

I'm not sure of your point, reality. Are you accusing Atherton and Menlo Park voters of racism for voting for certain candidates or East Palo Alto voters of being racist for voting for other candidates? Which do you prefer?

I prefer to believe that voters cast their ballots for those candidates who best represented their interests. Rule of thumb: the less contortion required for an explanation, the more plausible.


Posted by MENLO, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson said,"They did their research and voted for Bernstein, Carpenter, and Ianson- the most qualified candidates in this race."

Thank you!


Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Why shouldn't the firefighter's union try to get elected officials in their hip pockets so that they get great pensions and pay and benefits? The teacher's unions have done it in this state to their great benefit. And our little town has voted for these state puppets in droves. It's all very logical.


Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

oh yes, lets play the race card. When all else fails try and make it a racist issue. I believe the voters did their research, as I did, and then voted for the people most qualified. Race has nothing to do with this election.


Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Congratulations to the winners, but let's not be overly, unnecessarily congratulatory.

Below are the election results from the County's website. It's not as if the results were 30%/30%/30%/5%/5%. A shift of less than 150 votes from Rex to Jack would have changed the outcome.

PETER F. CARPENTER (22.87%)
CHUCK BERNSTEIN (21.15%)
REX IANSON (20.33%)
JACK NELSON (18.75%)
CAROLYN CLARKE (16.89%)


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This election shows how important every vote is.
And the citizens will be well served by Ianson's reelection.


Posted by reader, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

First off, I voted for PC & company. Secondly, has anyone besides me ever noticed that PC speaks, it is in a form of a
mandate? He never says, "in my opinion" or "from where I sit" or this is "how I see things", it is always in this mandated statement. He is never wrong, always right and everyone else is wrong or uninformed, he shows no flexibility or never says, "I stand corrected", it is the gospel according to PC, multiplied many times over by his
arrogance and authority on everything. I pity the other board members, district people and whomever he has to
deal with in the next 4 years. Where is his ability to bend or to stand corrected on issues, other people know stuff
too Peter, but you would never know it. There is more than one way to deal with a problem and maybe, just maybe,
someone else has a better idea or a different take on the same problem..Good Luck people, you are going to need it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Postings are always someone's opinion - and I always post in my own name.

And if you search my postings you will find a number of times that I admitted to being wrong.

Other people just keep changing their names so who knows what their real position is.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I would also note that during my 9 years on the Fire Board I was often the person who crafted compromise motions in order to obtain 5-0 votes. Look at the minutes and ask my colleagues rather than listening to rantings by someone who doesn't even know me and who evidently never attended a board meeting.


Posted by reality, a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Peter, Apparently Jack Nelson was often part of your 5-0 votes, you really showed him. Very few people in this community have your deep pockets, but we appreciate that you demand absolute obedience. Unless you are willing to give ten grand to every fire board candidate, why would anyone ever challenge you? Please feel free to appoint Scott Barnum or any other crony you see fit.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Reader:

Your posting looks awfully similar to one of the candidate's who did not get elected and whose email was printed in the Almanac last week. If that is the case, then fess up that you did not vote for "PC & company."

Your assessment of Peter may be correct. However, it looks like Peter may be more flexible than you think. Based on his posting, it seems to me that Peter has taken the first step of trying to have a good relationship with the union: "I know the firefighters' union president and he is in fact a trustworthy and honest person."

Peter post says a lot. First, it says that he has actually met the union president. Second, the posting indicates that there must have been some kind of interaction between Peter and the union president, if Peter's assessment is that the union president is "trustworthy and honest."

I think this may be the beginning of some good things for the fire district.


Posted by Vote for Bernstein, Carpenter, Ianson, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Reality:

The reality is that based on some of the newspaper articles, Jack Nelson was completely incompetent as a board member.

Your observation about "deep pockets" is interesting, though, because the union had the deepest pockets in this election and in the election when they spent $85,000 to elect Rob Silano. It sounds like you supported Nelson. As of the last filing, based on the Alamanac's article, Nelson didn't raise any money. Is this laziness or his assumption that the union would run the same kind of campaign for him as they did for Silano two years ago? Neither scenario is positive for Nelson!


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 8, 2013 at 7:27 am

Why don't those of you who insist on making wild, unfounded accusations cool the rhetoric (now including accusations of racism) and let the newly elected officials have a chance to resolve a very troublesome issue? These officials haven't even been sworn in yet!

The election is over. The voters made their choices.


Posted by windbag, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

I voted for Rex and Chuck but not PC. [Portion removed; don't engage in personal attacks and stick to the topic.]

I knew he would be elected because most voters don't read Town Square. Those of us who do visit this forum regularly can only hope that the FB occupies him to the extent that he stops monopolizing every interesting thread on this board.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed because it refers to a comment also removed for personal attacks and straying from the topic.]


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2013 at 11:27 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

First of all Congratulations to Peter, Chuck and Rex. And a sincere thank you for volunteering to help our community by being on the Board. Public safety is an important part of our City Government and you are thanked in advance for your service.

Trust, while the area next to the curb is in the public right of way, it is in fact owned by the landowner and they are ALLOWED to put political signs there. I checked with the city, and did put PC,CB and RI signs in my "right of way."

All this talk of deep pockets has nothing to do with the fire board election. It is a socio-economic statement by the misinformed. Otherwise you would have all been offended by the grotesque amount of money the Fire Fighters Union used during this election (and the last) to try to get a Board that they could influence and would give them MILLIONS back in salary and pension benefits. So in their eyes $100K invested in tilting the vote in their direction, would have been money well spent.....

Again gentlemen the electorate appreciates your service and good luck.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The tragedy in this election was the amount of money spent by all the candidates and their supporters. When I ran successfully for the Fire Board in 2001 and again in 2005 the cost was filing fees, a charge for the candidate's statement in the voter's guide and a few yard signs - usually less than $1000. However in 2011 the union, under its old leadership, spent an estimated $85,000 solely to get rid of a long serving and superb Fire Board director, Bart Spencer. When the 2013 election cycle began the various union entities had more than $50,000 in their war chests. Ianson, Bernstein and myself therefore had to run campaigns based on the assumption that the union would once again aggressively oppose the non-union candidates. As my filings, and bank statements which have been provided to both the Almanac and the Post, show I was forced to spend almost $17,000 in this election. We do not yet know how much the union and their candidates spent. The election results show both that we guessed correctly that the union would spend a lot and that the voters agreed that Ianson, Bernstein and I were the best candidates - but by a scarily small margin. It is clear that money can be a substitute for qualifications in gaining name recognition and votes.

Hopefully the new and, in my opinion, much wiser union leadership will realize that their best value for their money is in collective bargaining and not in the voting booth. If that is the case then future Fire Board elections can be solely about qualifications and commitment to service - and the typical candidate and their supporters will spend less than $1000 per candidate..


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