News

Fire board incumbents appear headed for reelection

Menlo Park Fire District Station 3 exterior in Atherton on Oct. 7, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District board incumbents Rob Silano and Virginia Chang Kiraly have a comfortable lead in their bids for reelection, according to numbers released by the San Mateo County Elections Office as of Monday, Nov. 9. Chang Kiraly has earned 37.9% of votes cast, while Silano has received 37.6% of the vote.

Former fire board member Peter Carpenter and investment professional Sean Ballard, who is chairperson of the district's Community Crisis Management Advisory Board, trail with 13.9% and 10.6% of the vote, respectively.

Virginia Chang Kiraly and Rob Silano. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

Chang Kiraly and Silano have both been on the board since November 2011. Carpenter decided not to run for reelection in 2018 after serving a combined 15 years on the board, while this was Ballard's second time running for a fire board seat after a 2018 campaign.

In an emailed statement, Silano said he was excited to see the initial results.

"I'm grateful to the voters and will look forward to my continued service on the board to advance the public safety of our communities," he said. "I thank all the candidates that ran for office in this race, and hope we can all work together to make our community safe."

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Chang Kiraly, in a statement, wrote "I am humbled by the vote of confidence that our fire district community has placed in me, once again, to keep our community safe and the fire district moving forward. I commend all the candidates for campaigning and highlighting important issues that can improve the fire district and look forward to continuing to serve our fire district community."

The fire board race was not without controversy, as Carpenter and Ballard accused the current board of micromanaging fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman and district staff — they campaigned together with a stated goal to "restore dignity and professionalism to the Fire Board," according to their joint campaign website. Chang Kiraly said that the board could be better at providing broad oversight rather than micromanaging operations, and with being respectful toward fellow directors.

None of the candidates supported a proposal for the town of Atherton to detach from the fire district and contract out for emergency services. The council elected to further research the idea — which was prompted by a fiscal services review that found property tax revenue from Atherton is millions of dollars more than it costs the fire district to provide the town services — but the process has been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Candidates identified planning for the next fire chief as one of the board's top priorities moving forward. Schapelhouman's contract is up in June, and he said he'll decide whether to retire in January.

Chang Kiraly said if reelected, her top priorities would be to continue ensuring the district's budget is healthy by funding capital improvement projects and paying down unfunded pension liabilities; improving the district's relationship with local jurisdictions and its volunteers; and ensuring a smooth transition to the new fire chief when Schapelhouman retires. Silano said his goals would be to "maintain the highest level of fire and emergency services to communities served by the district;" continue to support prudent fiscal management oversight policies with balanced budgets and strong reserves; and keep pace with current trends in public safety equipment, facility upgrades and additional personnel.

Carpenter spent the most in the fire board race by far, including more than $16,000 in mailers, advertising and related expenses toward Ballard's campaign. Silano received the most money from donors, receiving $6,300 in monetary contributions, according to campaign finance documents filed last month.

The district covers Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, approximately 30 square miles that reaches into the Bay, according to its website. It responded to over 9,000 emergency incidents last year, with most of them emergency medical calls.

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Julia Brown, a Foster City native, joined Embarcadero Media in 2016 as a news reporter for the Pleasanton Weekly. From 2018 to 2021 she worked as assistant editor of The Almanac and Mountain View Voice. Before joining the company, Julia was a news reporter for the Half Moon Bay Review newspaper. Read more >>

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Fire board incumbents appear headed for reelection

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 3, 2020, 10:21 pm

Menlo Park Fire Protection District board incumbents Rob Silano and Virginia Chang Kiraly have a comfortable lead in their bids for reelection, according to numbers released by the San Mateo County Elections Office as of Monday, Nov. 9. Chang Kiraly has earned 37.9% of votes cast, while Silano has received 37.6% of the vote.

Former fire board member Peter Carpenter and investment professional Sean Ballard, who is chairperson of the district's Community Crisis Management Advisory Board, trail with 13.9% and 10.6% of the vote, respectively.

Chang Kiraly and Silano have both been on the board since November 2011. Carpenter decided not to run for reelection in 2018 after serving a combined 15 years on the board, while this was Ballard's second time running for a fire board seat after a 2018 campaign.

In an emailed statement, Silano said he was excited to see the initial results.

"I'm grateful to the voters and will look forward to my continued service on the board to advance the public safety of our communities," he said. "I thank all the candidates that ran for office in this race, and hope we can all work together to make our community safe."

Chang Kiraly, in a statement, wrote "I am humbled by the vote of confidence that our fire district community has placed in me, once again, to keep our community safe and the fire district moving forward. I commend all the candidates for campaigning and highlighting important issues that can improve the fire district and look forward to continuing to serve our fire district community."

The fire board race was not without controversy, as Carpenter and Ballard accused the current board of micromanaging fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman and district staff — they campaigned together with a stated goal to "restore dignity and professionalism to the Fire Board," according to their joint campaign website. Chang Kiraly said that the board could be better at providing broad oversight rather than micromanaging operations, and with being respectful toward fellow directors.

None of the candidates supported a proposal for the town of Atherton to detach from the fire district and contract out for emergency services. The council elected to further research the idea — which was prompted by a fiscal services review that found property tax revenue from Atherton is millions of dollars more than it costs the fire district to provide the town services — but the process has been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Candidates identified planning for the next fire chief as one of the board's top priorities moving forward. Schapelhouman's contract is up in June, and he said he'll decide whether to retire in January.

Chang Kiraly said if reelected, her top priorities would be to continue ensuring the district's budget is healthy by funding capital improvement projects and paying down unfunded pension liabilities; improving the district's relationship with local jurisdictions and its volunteers; and ensuring a smooth transition to the new fire chief when Schapelhouman retires. Silano said his goals would be to "maintain the highest level of fire and emergency services to communities served by the district;" continue to support prudent fiscal management oversight policies with balanced budgets and strong reserves; and keep pace with current trends in public safety equipment, facility upgrades and additional personnel.

Carpenter spent the most in the fire board race by far, including more than $16,000 in mailers, advertising and related expenses toward Ballard's campaign. Silano received the most money from donors, receiving $6,300 in monetary contributions, according to campaign finance documents filed last month.

The district covers Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County, approximately 30 square miles that reaches into the Bay, according to its website. It responded to over 9,000 emergency incidents last year, with most of them emergency medical calls.

Comments

Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Nov 4, 2020 at 12:31 pm

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: Congratulations on your very clear victory
Date: November 4, 2020 at 8:34:32 AM PST
To: Rob Silano <[email protected]>, Virginia Chang Kiraly <[email protected]>


Paul Goeld
Registered user
Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Nov 5, 2020 at 6:05 am
Paul Goeld, Woodside: Woodside Hills
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 6:05 am

Yes, congratulations to Virginia and Rob.

And congratulations to Peter for running an honest campaign with integrity. I wish all politicians had just a fraction of Peter's class!


Kit
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:01 pm
Kit, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:01 pm

Losing candidates Peter and Sean are the only folks who have not picked up campaign signs. Pickup your trash at the Marsh Road railroad tracks!


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 10, 2020 at 4:02 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Kit - Thank you. We wondered where the person who stole a number of our signs had hidden them. Very helpful that you know their location.


Kit
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Dec 10, 2020 at 6:33 pm
Kit, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 6:33 pm

Thousands of residents have know where your “stolen” signs have been: blowing around on Marsh Road on the tracks for several weeks. I walk my 3 dogs almost daily across the tracks, hard to miss weathered sign strewn all over!


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:43 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:43 pm

Kit - Thank you. We wondered where the person who stole a number of our signs had hidden them. Very helpful that you know their location.

It is particularly interesting that is you who made this "discovery".


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