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Recall petitions filed in Russian River fire district

Proponents of ousting two Russian River Fire Protection District board members turned in recall petitions Tuesday to the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters.

The group turned in 1,124 signatures in support of recalling board member Kevin O'Shea and 1,108 signatures to recall Linda E. Payne.

Registrar staff have begun verifying the signatures and expect the process to take at least two weeks, election services supervisor Debra Russotti said. At least 813 signatures each must be valid, a number representing 25 percent of district voters.

The recall effort emerged amid a firestorm of public criticism over the the board's sudden firing of the chief it shared with the Forestville Fire Protection District.

After weeks of heated public meetings, consultations with lawyers and a mediation session, Chief Max Ming has returned to the job with an amended contract. Details of the contract had not yet been made public Tuesday.

Recall proponents argued that O'Shea, currently board president, and Payne were unfit to remain in the positions, citing a variety of reasons including micro-managing firehouse staff, violating public-meeting laws and taking a confrontational stance toward staff and district residents.

Both O'Shea and Payne have defended their seats on the board and said the complaints are without grounds.


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