Among a crowded Nov. 3 ballot, local voters will be deciding three at-large positions on the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Board of Directors.
The campaign features two incumbents and two newcomers: challenger Thomas Gallinatti, a retired Oakland firefighter; two-term Director H. Jay Kerr; challenger Michelle Lee, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel; and Director Matt Stamey, who has served on the board since 2009.
At least one seat is guaranteed to change as incumbent Director Dominique Yancey opted not to seek re-election. Yancey, who works as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County, has sat on the board since being appointed to fill a vacancy in September 2017.
The four candidates are competing to serve on the five-member board that oversees the fire district with about 185 employees and 10 fire stations covering approximately 155 square miles that includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk, Diablo and the southern areas of the Morgan Territory.
Ahead of the vote-by-mail cycle, DanvilleSanRamon.com reached out to SRVFPD contestants to provide input on their campaign priorities for the four-year terms ahead.
A Danville resident who worked for more than 30 years for the Oakland Fire Department before retiring "due to chronic, on-the-job injuries," Gallinatti points to extensive experience gained during his decades in the fire service industry.
"My final assignment as a battalion chief and director of training equipped me the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively serve as a partner on the SRVFPD Board of Directors. I bring experience and proven results in managing the fiscal, technological and daily operational issues facing today's fire safety industry," he told DanvilleSanRamon.
Gallinatti currently serves as the CEO of Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes, a nonprofit organization based in Walnut Creek that he founded with a stated mission to pay tribute to police and fire personnel who die in the line of duty by providing support for their agencies and families.
If elected, Gallinatti said he would prioritize "the effective management and decision making required to manage the issues facing current environment, the creation of present-day and strategic policies/initiatives that increase the effectiveness of our departments, and leverage new technologies that elevates our firefighters capabilities to better protect the lives and property of the citizens we serve."
Running for SRVFPD for the first time, Gallinatti closed his official candidate statement for the voter information guide by saying, "I bring to this position the core values of First Responders: integrity, experience, commitment, compassion, teamwork and excellence."
Gallinatti does not appear to have a campaign website.
H. Jay Kerr
A San Ramon resident and veterinarian by trade, Kerr has served on the Board of Directors since first getting elected in 2012.
"When I came on the SRVFPD board in 2012, the district had been experiencing multimillion-dollar deficits and was not funding its pension and OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) liabilities," Kerr told DanvilleSanRamon.
"SRVFPD has had a balanced budget every year since 2012. The district now has a healthy reserve fund, funds a viable capital improvement fund, and has dramatically reduced its pension and OPEB liabilities," he added. "In summary, the financial position of SRVFPD has greatly improved while maintaining response times and 'save rates' that are among the highest in the state."
Kerr, who owned veterinary hospitals in the Valley for more than 25 years and now works with his son in their pet after-care company Pets at Peace, touts two terms of board experience working toward achieving goals districtwide.
"I will represent our entire district -- all 155 square miles," he said. "As an example, during my term, the district built a new fire station in Alamo, partnered with San Ramon to provide primary dispatch services, and currently is working with residents to improve services in the rural eastern section of the district."
"I fully understand the issues, the finances and, most importantly, the mission of SRVFPD," Kerr added. "Top priority is providing the best in emergency medical and fire protection services to the citizens of the district. That said, these services have to be provided with financial responsibility."
Kerr does not appear to have a campaign website.
A longtime San Ramon Valley resident, Lee retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel after 36 years in the Air Force and has served organizations locally including as current president of the Dougherty Valley/San Ramon Rotary Club Foundation, a board member of the Diablo Valley Veterans Foundation and as a volunteer with the FEMA Community Emergency Response Team.
"While serving in the active duty military, I was responsible for overseeing budgets, people, and missions that had operational and strategic consequences and ultimately the lives and safety of people at stake," Lee told DanvilleSanRamon.
"Serving on the fire board is a natural progression and expansion of my service to the community," she added. "My military leadership experience aligns with the values and principles and structure of the district but also adds valuable diversity and perspective to the board as well as balance."
Running for SRVFPD board for the first time, Lee cites fiscal sustainability; firefighter, paramedic and staff training and support; strengthening stakeholder partnerships; and being a representative voice for the whole Valley among her top campaign priorities.
"I look to serve the entire SRV community by ensuring that our taxpayers’ money is used honestly, efficiently, cost effectively and for the public good," she said. "Our residents deserve nothing less."
"The best candidate for the seat is the one who not only has the skills and abilities to fulfill the mission of the board and district, but also can add breadth, depth and diversity of life, career and personal experience to the board as a whole. I believe I am that candidate," Lee added.
To learn more about Lee's campaign, visit www.votemichellelee.com.
A San Ramon Valley fire board director since November 2009, including serving as board vice president this year, Stamey works as president/CEO of a corporation dedicated to agriculture and is a former group manager for a Fortune 500 printing company. He is also chairman of the PulsePoint Foundation.
"I have experience on the board and know the district and our citizens' needs," Stamey told DanvilleSanRamon. "I have a track record that demonstrates fiscal responsibility, dedication to the citizens whom I serve and to the employees of the district that make our accomplishments possible. I have no other agenda."
Among accomplishments during his board tenure to date, Stamey listed fiscal sustainability and balanced budgets, paying down district debt, managing growth of community needs, better capital improvement planning, and "always focusing on safety of our employees, fellow citizens and property preservation."
He said his priorities for the term ahead aim to "maintain our world class organization, prepare the district to meet our citizens needs for the next five to 10 years, safety of our employees, service levels to our community which we serve, and responsible management of our budgets."
In his official candidate statement, Stamey added, "I understand the budgeting process and the importance of making wise decisions when considering the proper allocation of your tax dollars. I acknowledge I have a fiduciary responsibility to you, the tax payer. Our organization must maintain a sustainable budget and strong business plan to meet our community’s future needs.
"I will continue to provide the proper guidance, direction, and oversight you expect of your Board of Directors."
Stamey does not appear to have a campaign website.