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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Special District

East Contra Costa Fire Protection District
Measure N - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

27,001 votes yes (62.43%)

16,252 votes no (37.57%)

100% of precincts reporting (76/76).

50,576 ballots counted.

Appointment to Elect Board Members Measure
— undefined

Shall the Board of Directors of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District change from an appointed Board of Directors of nine members to a Board of Directors of nine members, elected at-large?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

 A “yes” vote authorizes changing the District Board of Directors from an appointed governing board to a governing board whose members are elected by the voters.

NO vote means

  A “no” vote means the District Board of Directors will continue to be a governing board whose members are appointed by the Brentwood City Council, the Oakley City Council, and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Contra Costa County Elections Division

 The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (“District”) is governed by a nine-member appointed Board of Directors. Four members of the Board of Directors are appointed by the Brentwood City Council, three members are appointed by the Oakley City Council, and two members are appointed by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

 

     California law allows voters to change an appointed fire protection district board of directors from an appointed governing board to a board of directors whose members are elected by the voters. The District Board of Directors has adopted a resolution asking voters to decide whether to change the District governing board “from an appointed Board of Directors of nine members to a Board of Directors of nine members, elected at-large.” If a majority of voters voting on the question approves of changing the governing board to an elected board, the members of the District Board of Directors will be elected at the next general District election.

     A “yes” vote authorizes changing the District Board of Directors from an appointed governing board to a governing board whose members are elected by the voters.

     A “no” vote means the District Board of Directors will continue to be a governing board whose members are appointed by the Brentwood City Council, the Oakley City Council, and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

 The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is in favor of Measure N.

 

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District is in serious trouble, and is failing to provide adequate emergency response services. The members of the district Board are currently appointed by the City of Brentwood, the City of Oakley and the County. As appointed members they must serve two masters: the government entity appointing them and the residents of the entire district. This creates a conflict of interest as members must “look out for” the concerns of their appointing entity, which may not coincide with the overall needs and interests of district residents.

Electing members of the Board will eliminate this conflict and better protect the safety of district residents. At-large elections will better assure direct accountability, and a broader pool of qualified candidates.

Let’s remove even the appearance of conflict and provide for a more effective Board by directly electing members, at-large.

Vote YES to directly elect the members of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board.

Contra Costa County Taxpayers Association,
Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Arguments AGAINST

Direct election of East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Directors is an idea whose time has not yet come.

 

Currently the Directors are appointed by the elected officials of the three jurisdictions the fire district serves, namely the county and the cities of Brentwood and Oakley. Each jurisdiction appoints fire board directors in proposition to the population represented. The distribution of directors to each jurisdiction was carefully allocated between the jurisdictional agencies when the District was formed in order to provide proportional representation and prevent any one jurisdiction from controlling the fire board.

The district is currently facing significant cost issues with the most likely solution being additional funding from the three represented jurisdictions. Moving to an at-large elected board is unwise until funding issues are resolved.

The cost to the district for holding each biannual election of directors will exceed $100,000, in addition to the personal cost of campaigns by hopefully nine or more candidates. The District is short of funds now, this will only add to the problem.

A board elected at large will distort the current proportional representation leaving more rural areas with no voice.

These are non-paid directorships; most likely only special interest groups will be able to raise the money for an election increasing the likely hood of special interest control by unions or other single purpose groups.

I believe that a proportional board of directors appointed by the represented jurisdictions based on application, interview and qualification is a better way to select our fire board at this time.

Joe Young, East Contra Costa Fire Prevention District, Director
Cheryl Morgan, East Contra Costa Fire Prevention District, Director

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Replies to Arguments FOR

The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association argues that there is a conflict of interest or at least an appearance of a conflict of interest with the current selection process for Directors of the Fire Board.

 

There is no conflict of interest.

The Board includes a mix of citizens and elected representatives appointed on a proportional basis to assure that neither City nor the County has a majority representation. This assures that the Board acts for the benefit of the District as a whole rather than based on colloquial or special interests.

The primary responsibility for fire protection in the District rests with the County and the Cities of Brentwood and Oakley. These three jurisdictional agencies participated in the creation of the District in order to provide the most efficient and coordinated fire service to the entire District.

The District has no independent taxing authority. The Cities are in the process of significantly increasing the funding provided to the Fire District through reallocation of city revenue and city taxes.

It is imperative that proportional representation be maintained especially as the amount of city funding provided by the three jurisdictional agencies increases.

At large elections will not serve the people well and will leave the District subject to special or colloquial interest and union control.

A proportional Board of Directors appointed by the elected representative of the jurisdictional agencies based on application, interview and qualification is the best way to select our Fire Board.

Vote NO on Measure N.

Joe Young, East Contra Costa Fire Prevention District, Director
Cheryl Morgan, East Contra Costa Fire Prevention District, Director

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The three government bodies (the county, Oakley and Brentwood) that currently appoint fire board members agreed to provide one-time financial help so that the fire district can open one additional fire station, and called for direct election of the fire board.

 

However, all three agencies have their own municipal priorities, and it is long past time for the fire district to be governed by board members who will represent only the interests of the fire district’s constituents.

Oakley and Brentwood have each placed a Utility User Tax (UUT) on this ballot, ostensibly to fund the district, but by law UUT revenues must go into that city’s general fund, so there is no guarantee that the money will be directed to the district. Other parcel and benefit assessment district tax attempts have failed in the past, as likely will the UUT proposals, because residents know they already pay for fire service through their county property taxes each year. However, this funding is based on an outdated low tax rate allocation established when the area was mostly orchards and cropland.

The grass-roots East County Voters for Equal Protection group is proposing a property tax reallocation that will provide more equitable and reliable fire district future funding, without any contributing agency having to cut its budget. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/ to support this sensible plan.

Vote YES to elect board members whose only accountability will be directly to you.

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association,
Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa County Elections Division
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