A coalition of former Palo Alto mayors has raised more than $58,000 to defeat a ballot measure that would lock in firefighter staffing levels, campaign finance data shows.
If voters approve Measure R on Nov. 2, Palo Alto would have to hold a citywide vote any time the city wants to reduce staffing levels in the Fire Department or close a local fire station.
Palo Alto Professional Firefighters, Local 1319, is pushing the measure as a way to protect the local fire department from staff reductions. The firefighters union is also in the midst of tense contract negotiations with the city.
In response to the measure, a group of former mayors and council members had formed a group called "Safe Palo Alto" to fight the firefighters' proposal, which it calls an "unprecedented power play." According to new campaign-finance data, the group has raised $58,393 as of Sept. 30, which includes $41,376 in cash contributions and $17,017 in legal services.
The group is led by former mayors Dena Mossar, Bern Beecham, Vic Ojakian and Lanie Wheeler. Its campaign committee also includes Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss, current council members Greg Scharff, Larry Klein, Sid Espinosa and Nancy Shepherd, developer Chop Keenan, land-use watchdog Bob Moss and former council members Jack Morton and John Barton.
The firefighters union, which led a petition drive this summer to get Measure R on the ballot, hasn't raised any money to support the campaign in favor of the measure as of Sept. 30, according to finance records.
Contributors to the Safe Palo Alto campaign include dozens of local business professionals, school activists, commissioners and council members.
Alma Plaza developer John McNellis contributed $2,500 to the campaign, while Councilmen Larry Klein and Greg Scharff contributed $1,000 each. Other council members submitted contributions ranging from $50 (Yiaway Yeh) to $250 (Shepherd).
The measure would require any proposal by the council to reduce Fire Department staffing levels to go through two public hearings. It would then have to be approved by voters in a citywide election.
The two sides held a debate on the measure Wednesday night in the Palo Alto Art Center, co-sponsored by the Palo Alto Weekly and League of Women Voters of Palo Alto.