Cypress Fire District Race Heats Up
Incumbents allege union-backed challenger is orchestrating a district territory grab.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Two sides are looking to smoke each other out in the Cypress Fire Protection District race, where the entry of a Republican political consultant is upending 31 years of uncontested elections.
Challenger Brandon Gesicki runs Capitol Consulting and Public Relations. His clients include state Sen. Sam Blakeslee and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.
Incumbent Denver Dale sees the district’s $7.3 million reserve and $4.8 million annual operating budget as motive for Gesicki and his backers. “I think they’re trying to get their hooks into that money,” Dale says.
Gesicki counters that the robust balance reflects mismanagement. “We’re wasting tax dollars,” he says. “You have a big reserve because you’re not doing your job.”
Gesicki says his priority is getting Cypress its own ambulance service. Today, with the exception of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel Valley, all of Monterey County shares a single ambulance provider.
But he sites no specific advantages of having a full-time ambulance stationed at Rio Road, the southern edge of the Cypress district, which extends up Josselyn Canyon.
Although he’s focusing on ambulance services, Gesicki’s key endorsements come from labor groups representing firefighters in neighboring districts Carmel and Monterey, which the Cypress incumbents see as a threat. Cypress, along with Pebble Beach and Carmel Highlands, contracts with state-run Cal Fire. The election is again drawing scrutiny to Carmel’s decision in September to merge fire services with Monterey.
Cal Fire Chief Rick Hutchinson, whose unit includes Cypress, says of the Monterey Fire Department, “They have acted predatory.”
Monterey Firefighters Association President Jim Courtney sees the opposite, saying Dale’s hang-up about the merger shows Cypress’ interest in expansion.
As to whether this run is the start of a political career, Gesicki says, “I don’t know. There’s no beginning unless you get elected.”
Clarification: Brandon Gesicki worked as a subcontractor for Sen. Sam Blakeslee's political consultant in 2010, and was never directly hired by his campaign.