Peter Carpenter, never out of public view for long, has rejoined the governing board of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. The board members voted 4-0 to appoint him to replace Peter Ohtaki, who left to take a seat on the City Council.
Mr. Carpenter previously served on the board from 2001 to 2009. His return to the fire district even as a temporary director came as a surprise to those who remember him saying he was finished with public service.
He explained that filling the position now would prevent anyone from gaining an advantage over other candidates when the district holds an election for a permanent replacement.
Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman commented: "From our standpoint as staff, and as the fire chief, there's no mystery as to what Director Carpenter's expectations are or what he feels strongly about. I know where we stand and what he expects from us."
Four applicants vied for the position during a round-robin interview on Thursday, Dec. 9.
Robert Solano, Virginia Chang Kiraly, Steven Kennedy and Mr. Carpenter took turns answering nine questions posed by the board, according to Chief Schapelhouman.
Like Mr. Carpenter, Mr. Kennedy previously served on the board, but his service was plagued by reports of unethical behavior. He was censured three times and stripped of his director's badge.
Chief Schapelhouman complimented everyone who applied. "It's nice to have four people who want to be board members," he said. "Sometimes there's no one."
The seat will once again be open in November 2011 when the fire board next holds an election.
Mr. Carpenter said he doesn't plan to run.