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.