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Fire Board Members Sworn In To Service

With the recent certification of the Nov. 3 election totals in San Joaquin County, the newly elected Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District Board members have been sworn in.

Running unopposed, seeking to fill out two years remaining on a term, Laura Catrina was not on the ballot and automatically returns to her seat.

Incumbent Josh Cummings was seeking re-election to another four-year term and longtime board member Steve Reichmuth declined to run, leaving two seats available on the November ballot.

Former Escalon Fire Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro and firefighter/paramedic Mark Paulsen were on the ballot along with incumbent Cummings, the three battling for the two seats. Paulsen, with 3,423 votes (41 percent) and Pinheiro, with 3,039 (37 percent) won the available posts. Cummings polled 1,867 votes (22 percent) in the Nov. 3 election.

Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello said Catrina, Paulsen and Pinheiro were all sworn in during a special gathering last week. No business was conducted other than the swearing in, Mello said, to allow for a full board when the next regular meeting occurs.

That is anticipated in January.

“It’s scheduled for January 14 but a lot hinges on getting the public access to a virtual meeting,” explained Mello. “Our meetings have to be public and we don’t have the platform right now to do that.”

The board members can gather via Zoom but Mello said they also have to allow secure access to the public and they expect having that up and running in time for the Thursday, Jan. 14 session.

Catrina, who was appointed in 2018, took over at that time for Andy Dugo. Her term runs through 2022; Paulsen and Pinheiro take over the two available four-year terms.

Cummings served one four-year term on the board; Reichmuth was a long time member.

“We exchanged knowledge for some different people with different knowledge,” Mello said, with both Pinheiro and Paulsen coming in with firefighting experience. “Knowledge is always good.”

Voting numbers for Escalon from the November Presidential election show there were 6,416 votes cast out of 7,306 registered voters, for just under an 88 percent turnout.

Also in the election, incumbent State Assemblyman Heath Flora of Ripon was returned to office in the 12th District, representing constituents in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

“I want to thank the people of Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County for their support and vote of confidence. It is an honor to represent the twelfth district in the State Assembly and we will continue to represent our area to the best of our ability,” Flora said in a prepared statement. “This year our office was proud to assist more than 1,000 constituents from Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Assemblymember.”

He added that his office will continue to be a resource for residents and can be reached at (209) 599-2112.

“We can be of assistance to anyone facing challenges or obstacles with state agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, Employment Development Department, or Medi-CAL,” Flora said.