1ST DISTRICT REPORT | TIM STRACK
Firefighters Win Key Races
The value of getting firefighters elected to public office was never more apparent than in the 2018 elections, as two high-profile candidates throughout the 1st District.
Corona – Local 3757 President, Jim Steiner – a 30-year department veteran – decided to run for the District 4 City Council seat after his retirement from the department and the union. Local 3757 was all in for their former leader. “Our staffing levels had been cut to 1980s level and our population is much larger now,” explained Trevor Walsh, President of Corona Firefighters Association Local 3757. “Jim was the right choice to bring that public safety voice to the council.” Corona’s 100 members mobilized and knocked on doors, seven days a week, for three months for Steiner and two other firefighter-friendly candidates – all of whom won.
Lakeside – Lakeside Firefighters Association Local 4488 struck a blow for public safety with the election of San Diego City Local 145 member Tim Robles to Lakeside Fire Board. “I’ve always heard from CPF and IAFF: When there’s an opportunity to get a firefighter elected, we have to do it.” Local 4488 worked hard for Robles’ election “The health of the district has always been a priority for us, and we believed that Tim was the right choice for the board,” said Local 4488 President Eric Stamm.
“The firefighter voice was very successful this year in our district and all around the state,” said Brian Rice, CPF President. “We hope to continue building on our success and get more firefighters elected to public office.”
Four-Person Staffing A Reality in Chula Vista
It’s been the National Fire Protection Association’s recognized standard for engine staffing since 2000. Now, it is the standard for engine staffing in Chula Vista.
Thanks to the passage of a local sales tax measure in June of 2018, Chula Vista implemented a series of staffing increases that, in February, culminated with the news that all of its engine companies had been increased to four on a rig. Measure A added a half-cent to the city’s sales tax, raising $19 million a year directed toward public safety.
“The revenue is public safety only,” said Darrell Roberts, president of Chula Vista Firefighters Local 2180. “Measure A included a citizen oversight committee to make sure that the money goes to police and fire.”
The sizeable vote in support of Measure A was due in large measure to the focused and relentless effort of Local 2180 and its members. Working not only for the tax measure but also on local council races, Roberts said firefighters were out front during the campaign, and helped sell the issue to voters. Chula Vista has had some catching up to do on staffing – according to the city’s fire chief, fire staffing per 1000 residents is about half the national average.
Chula Vista Firefighters also had strong support from CPF, both before and after the June election. In the runup to the June 6 vote, CPF’s Firefighters Print & Design produced some game-changing print material – “the nicest pieces we’ve ever done in an election,” said Roberts. Moreover, after the election, CPF’s leadership and legislative team negotiated a deal that sidetracked a statewide ballot initiative that, if successful, could have retroactively wiped out Chula Vista’s victory.
“When I heard that ballot initiative had been killed, I was ecstatic,” said Roberts.
The move to four-person staffing is already reaping dividends. Early reports from the department show improved response times and more efficient operation on-scene. “We know this makes a big difference for the safety of our residents, and we’re grateful to voters for their trust. Now the task is to just stay vigilant for the future.”