Three Contested Races for Local Fire, Irrigation Boards

August 24, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Logos of the Escalon Fire District, Ripon Fire District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District

The Escalon Fire District, Ripon Fire District, and South San Joaquin Irrigation District all have contested seats in November.

Only three of the elections for fire and irrigation districts in San Joaquin have more candidates than available positions.

The Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District has two open seats. One incumbent, Steve Reichmuth, is not running. The other, Josh Cummings, was elected to his first term in 2016. Before that, he worked as a fire captain in Ceres and for Escalon Community Ambulance.

There are two challengers: Mark Paulsen, a firefighter and paramedic, and Terry Pinheiro, a retired battalion chief for the district. Pinheiro also worked for 30 years at the Escalon Police Department, including 20 years as a reserve officer.

In the Ripon Consolidated Fire Protection District, there are four candidates vying for three seats. Sheri Coburn, who spearheaded the SOS Committee to support the fire department’s expansion to Station 3, is one of them. Coburn is also the director of Comprehensive Health Programs at the San Joaquin County Office of Education and is on the board of the California School Nurses Organization.

Ryan Mackey, a reserve firefighter for the district, is also seeking a spot on the board. He also currently works as an engineer/paramedic for the Modesto Fire Department and for the David Fire Department. His primary issues include improving emergency services and response time.

Larry Madoski, a division chief at the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District, is the third candidate running. He also recently served as a strike team leader on the LNU Complex Fire. “My decision to run for the fire board was not made lightly. My wife and three children are each involved in our church and community. As their dad, it is time for me to set the example of citizenship by getting involved in the community we love.”, he wrote in his campaign statement.

Madoski would like to see more planning and transparency from the fire board in terms of new taxes. “I do see where local taxes have a place. However, I think that they are a last resort… Appropriate measures need to be in place so that growth and additional services pay their own way.”, he told 209 Politics.

The final contender is Matt Cultrera, who has served on the board since 2016. The other two incumbents whose terms are up, Don Wever and Tamra Spade, are not seeking reelection. Spade is running for a spot on Ripon City Council this election cycle.

The seat for Division 3 on the South San Joaquin Irrigation District is a two-way race. David Kamper, who has been on the board since 1997, is running for reelection. He is the current president and serves on the Equipment, Agricultural Water Issues, South San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and Public Relations Committees.

“As an almond grower and small businessman, I have a good understanding of how the district operates and how it can be improved. Let’s continue to improve the dependability of the system and improve access to the water for more efficient uses through more reliability as in our Div. 9 pressurized system (sprinklers & drip).”, he said in his campaign statement.

Challenging Kamper is Sam Bologna, a former engineering department manager for the district for almost 47 years. He has also represented the district at the Eastern San Joaquin County Groundwater Authority in developing a local groundwater sustainability plan. Bologna also oversaw the implementation of the Division 9 Irrigation Enhancement Project.

“The District is at a major turning point and there are many critical challenges ahead such as providing retail electric service, long-range facility improvements, preservation of water rights for a reliable supply for rural and urban use, groundwater sustainability, and adherence to a long range fiscal plan.”, he said in his campaign statement.