By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor, and Miriam Raftery, Editor
February 26, 2019 (Julian) — Voters in the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) have until March 19 to mail in their ballots on Measure A. The ballot language is confusing to some.
In plain English, a “yes” vote would dissolve the county’s last all-volunteer firefighting district and put the San Diego County Fire Authority run by Cal Fire in sole charge of fire and emergency medical protection. A “no” vote would save the district from dissolving and keep the volunteer firefighters and paramedics who have protected the area for over 20 years, with Cal Fire providing backup/mutual aid.
View Measure A ballot language
Last September, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) ordered the JCFPD to dissolve, as the County has done with all of its other former volunteer fire departments.
But residents of the district mounted a successful protest, getting enough signatures to put the district’s future on the ballot for voters to decide.
In short, if a voter chooses to darken the oval next to word “YES,” they are agreeing that the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District should be abolished, and the CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire Authority should take over fire protection and medical services.
If a voter chooses to darken the oval next to word “NO,” they are disagreeing to LAFCO’s decision to abolish the JCFPD and want to keep things “as is.”
“The ballot question is generally provided by the political jurisdiction who is having the election. They must also follow the California Elections Code when doing so,” says Michael Vu, San Diego County Voter Registrar.
Pros and cons
The County contends that residents would be safer under Cal Fire/CFA control, with professionally trained firefighters and stable funding provided by the County. The County used to provide funding to the JCFPD, but will no longer do so, meaning the district would have to raise its own money if voters opt to stay independent.
JCFPD supporters say that having volunteers who live in the district assure that emergency responses can be provided 24/7 regardless of snowy weather or dispatching of Cal Fire personal to battle wildfires elsewhere, by personnel who are familiar with local roads and terrain. Some 25 new recruits recently completed a JCFPD raining academy and Chief Mike Van Bibber has indicated he believes the district can raise the funds needed.
What else should you know?
Ballots must be received by the Registrar of Voters by 8:00 p.m. on Mar. 19, or your return envelope must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the Registrar of Voters no later than the Friday after Election Day.
The only authorized polling precinct will be at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office at 5600 Overland Ave., off Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa, available from Feb. 19 and will continue through Election Day on Tuesday, Mar. 19 and will be open for voting Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tues., Mar. 19.
Voter signatures verification is expected to begin on Feb. 25. Opening and preparing mail ballots for computer tabulation will begin on or after Mar. 5.
Voting results will be posted after 8 p.m., Tues., Mar. 19th and with official results anticipated by 5 p.m. on Wed., Mar. 27.
Vu says that additional election postings may occur as deemed appropriate. All results are unofficial until completion of the official canvass of the election on or before April 19. Citizens can observe any of the processes by contacting the Registrar at (858) 565-5800.
The registrar’s website at sdvote.com has been set up with a special section where voters can see if their ballot has been received.
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