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Presentado por
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
November 6, 2018 — Elección General de California
Distrito especial

Menlo Park Fire Protection DistrictCandidato para Miembre de Junta

Photo de Chuck Bernstein

Chuck Bernstein

13,393 votos (25.13%)Winning
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Mis 3 prioridades principales

  • Exceptional Public Protection and Service--Meeting our response-time targets consistently and throughout the day, even during commute times, is the highest goal I have for our District.
  • Fiscal Responsibility--Good planning, prudent procedures, thoughtful and respectful civic debate, and thorough transparency to the public are necessary to safeguard the resources our taxpayers entrust to the Board.
  • Civilian Participation in Disaster Preparedness--Civilian participation is critical in a regional disaster. We must continue to build the capabilities and the numbers of CERT volunteers so that they can assist their neighbors when they are needed.



Profesión:Educator, schools and child care centers
CEO/Founder, Early Learning Institute (child care, private schools) (1982–current)
Member, San Mateo County Countywide Oversight Board [RDA Dissolution] — Cargo elegido (2018–current)
Member, Board of Directors; President (2018), Menlo Park Fire Protection District — Cargo elegido (2013–current)
Board Member, CERT Advisory Board for Menlo Park Fire Protection District — Cargo designado (2013–2013)
Founder, Citizen’s Patrol (The Willows Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team) — Cargo designado (1991–1993)
Principal & Founder, Interlink Associates (business consulting) (1979–1985)
Founding Business Manager, TheatreWorks Theater Company (1974–1983)
General Manager, Behavioral Research Laboratories, Language Division (1970–1972)


Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA, Business & Management (1974)
Stanford University Ph.D., Languages & Linguistics (1974)
Princeton University A.B., magna cum laude, French & English (1968)
Université de Strasbourg, France Certificat, French History & Culture (1966)

Actividades comunitarias

Sea Scout Charter Liaison, Elks Lodge (2000–2012)
Assistant Scoutmaster, Boy Scout Troop 57, Palo Alto (2003–2010)
Den Leader, Cub Scout Pack 185, Palo Alto (1994–2010)
Scorer, Menlo-Atherton High School Boys Water Polo (2006–2009)
Soccer Referee, A.Y.S.O. (1994–2004)




I grew up in the Chicago area, went to the East Coast for college, and came to the Bay Area in 1968 to go to graduate school.  After earning a Ph.D. in languages and literature at Stanford and obtaining an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, I went to work as a management consultant. 


I specialized in budgeting and finance, with private clients such as Warner Brothers, Coca Cola, and Mobil Oil, and public clients such as the Borough of Anchorage Alaska, the Cities of Menlo Park and Milpitas, and the States of Washington and Idaho, and federal agencies such as the U.S. Air Force and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  I also performed many studies of educational issues for the (then) U.S. Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  As a principal in a small consulting firm in Palo Alto, I wrote the original business plans for the Gymboree Corporation and Banana Republic, which brought in the first outside funding for those companies.

Public Service

During this time, I became committed to public service.  I was one of three founders of a Palo Alto-based theater troupe that became TheatreWorks, now a major, regional repertory company (, serving as its business manager and later a board member.  I was appointed by the governor to California’s Special Education Commission, where I served for seven years, one year as its chairperson.  In Menlo Park, I served on the Residential Review Task Force, the Child Care Task Force, the Budget Advisory Group, and the resident group interviewing city manager candidates.


In 1979, I began work on what had been a business school project: the creation of an educational organization that would help parents provide guidance to their young children.  It would evolve into an organization that now operates three large child care centers, two private schools, and a writing program that has conducted specialized writing courses to thousands of students.  It now serves roughly 600 students per year with 120 employees, which is roughly the same size as the Fire Protection District.


My wife, Candace, and I raised two sons in the house I have owned since 1975.  Both attended Menlo Atherton High School and are now adults.

Public Safety

I have continued to be dedicated to public service, with an increasing interest in public safety.  In the early 90s, I joined Just Us, an East Palo Alto-based group that mobilized volunteers to discourage drug dealing and other crime in East Palo Alto and The Willows area of Menlo Park.  I also co-founded a group called Citizen Patrol, a group of Menlo Park residents who patrolled The Willows and the Westside are of East Palo Alto in private vehicles linked by radio to the two police departments, serving as their “eyes and ears.”  As a leader for my two sons’ Boy Scout troop (and Eagle Scout myself), I specialized in wilderness first aid and safety.  I became CERT trained many years ago and continue to serve as an active CERT volunteer.  I was appointed by the fire chief to his CERT Advisory Group in 2011, before being elected to the Board of the District in 2013.

Fire Board

As President of the Board, I have worked hard on two goals: to improve our relationships with our neighboring agencies, arranging the first joint meetings ever between elected representatives of the District and elected representatives in East Palo Alto and San Mateo County; and to eliminate individual frictions among Board members at public meetings that limit the Board’s effectiveness in dealing with the fundamental issues confronting it.  We have made progress, but there is still much to do.

As President, I was selected by the leaders of the other special districts in San Mateo County to represent them on the Countywide Oversight Board (  That is the new group charged with the orderly disposition of over $400 million in former redevelopment agency properties.


¿Quién apoya a este candidato?

Funcionarios electos (12)

  • Virginia Chang-Kiraly, Director, Menlo Park Fire Protection District
  • Catherine Carlton, Menlo Park Council Member
  • Mike Lempres, Atherton Council Member
  • Rick DeGolia, Atherton Council Member
  • Lisa Gauthier, East Palo Alto Council Member & Vice Mayor
  • Carlos Romero, East Palo Alto Council Member
  • Roy Thiele-Sardiña, Treasurer, West Bay Sanitary District
  • Ray Mueller, Menlo Park Council Member
  • Elizabeth Lewis, Atherton Council Member
  • Ned Moritz, President, West Bay Sanitary District
  • Larry Moody, East Palo Alto Council Member
  • Bill Widmer, Atherton Council Member

Individuos (22)

  • Bob Arabian, Menlo Park
  • Telesia Alusa, Menlo Park
  • Scott Barnum, CCM Executive Board, Menlo Park
  • Lee Duboc, Menlo Park
  • Drake Diedrich, East Palo Alto
  • Patti Fry, Menlo Park
  • Mary Gilles, Fair Oaks
  • David Hauk, Menlo Park
  • Richard Li, Menlo Park
  • Luis Guzman, East Palo Alto
  • Stu Soffer, Menlo Park
  • Jack Morris, Menlo Park
  • Jim Long, Menlo Park
  • Mike Shannahan, Vice Chair, CCM Executive Committee, Unincorporated County
  • Isaac Stevenson, Jr, Senior Advisory Committee, East Palo Alto
  • Tom Prussing, Chair, CCM Executive Committee, Atherton
  • Romain Taniere, East Palo Alto
  • Henry Riggs, Planning Commissioner, Menlo Park
  • Dennis Parker, East Palo Alto
  • Perla Ni, Menlo Park
  • Laura Martinez, East Palo Alto
  • William Webster, Member, Rent Stabilization Board, East Palo Alto

Creencias poliza

Filosofía política


• Traffic Congestion from New Development

This is the biggest issue affecting the quality of service offered by the District.  From 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM and from 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM, emergency response routes are so clogged that it is now nearly impossible for first responders to reach victims and events in the seven-minute limit that is critical to survival.  Even after help has arrived on scene, it is often necessary to wait for ambulances to arrive (our responders are not allowed by state law to transport victims to hospitals).  The ambulances, too, are delayed in their trips to the hospitals.

While specialized equipment and teams for rare occurrences, such as hazardous materials spills, are available regionally, congestion now delays their arrival to such an extent that they may have to be duplicated.  In the event of a release of hazardous materials on U.S. 101 or in a manufacturing company, the response must now come from San Mateo.  At 4:30 PM on a weekday, that could easily take over one hour.  It may be necessary soon for the District to duplicate these resources.

There are solutions, but they are very difficult to accomplish politically and financially.  They include, for example, limits on development, without additional roadway infrastructure, and the dedication of existing roadways for emergency use only, especially during commute hours.  There are futuristic solutions, too, such as the delivery of rescue equipment (e.g., automated external defibrillators) by drone and even helicopter response and transportation.  At the very least, these solutions—and the means to pay for them—must be considered by our constituent agencies when approving massive commercial and residential developments.

• Taller and More Intensive Development

The urbanization of the Midpeninsula region has changed the nature of both the equipment and training necessary for timely and effective response.  One-story residences did not require 100-foot ladder trucks, but 10-story commercial and residential buildings do.  Even then, it is difficult and unacceptably time consuming to evacuate hundreds of people from a building via a ladder.

There are solutions to this, but they are also costly and often politically unpopular.  The starting point is stronger building codes requiring sprinkler systems and protected means of egress, as well as $1.5 million pieces of equipment. 

There are solutions, but they are very difficult to accomplish politically and financially.  They include, for example, limits on development, without additional roadway infrastructure, and the dedication of existing roadways for emergency use only, especially during commute hours.  There are futuristic solutions, too, such as the delivery of rescue equipment (e.g., automated external defibrillators) by drone and even helicopter response and transportation.  At the very least, these solutions—and the means to pay for them—must be considered by our constituent agencies when approving massive commercial and residential developments.

• Insufficient Water and Water Pressure

The lack of availability of water is a major problem.  Six or seven water agencies serve the District and some of their infrastructure is over 100 years old.  It is difficult to get enough water pressure to take it up 10 stories and to address more than one or two structures simultaneously.

As always, there are solutions, but they are not under the control of the Fire District.  That is one of the reasons that the Board has made it a priority to improve our outreach to water companies and to do a better job of making them, residents, and employers aware of the problems.  Water availability also needs to be a major consideration for the constituent agencies approving new development.

• Compensation and Pension Costs

When times are good and tax revenues are high, as they are now, it is relatively easy to afford the high salaries and pensions of employees.  Unfortunately, these obligations remain fixed at high levels, even when there is a leveling off or downturn in tax revenues.  That is also the time that investment yields decline and pension earnings become insufficient to pay current obligations, requiring CalPERS to require higher contributions from its members, resulting in a double hit—less revenue and higher expenses.

There are two things that can and should be done: 

-First, we can do better planning so that the impacts of economic downturns can be understood.  The San Mateo County Grand Jury recently chided the District for not doing this strategic planning, which could be used as background for compensation and benefit decisions before new employee contracts are approved.

-Second, we can go to a lower pension tier for our safety employees.  We are currently at the highest level; the Governor Brown’s pension reform legislation created two levels below where we are, but the District has not seriously considered a change.




Documentos sobre determinadas posturas

Ballot Statement


This statement is printed in the "Official Voter Information Pamphlet."

Name:              Chuck Bernstein

Age:                 73

Education and Qualifications:

By day, I am CEO of an educational organization the same size as the Fire District.  Previously, I served as budget consultant to many organizations, including Menlo Park, Warner Brothers, Coca Cola, and the Air Force.  Evenings and weekends, I serve the community.    

 I use my experience and leadership to represent taxpayers, while always making the safety of residents and firefighters top priority.  A finance specialist, I focus on the District’s financial practices.  I was appointed to a statewide advisory group on pension reform and elected by local special districts to the Countywide Oversight Board liquidating $400,000,000 in redevelopment assets. 

 I am emphasizing strategic planning, citizen-based emergency preparedness, district-wide warning systems, and stronger ties with neighboring jurisdictions.

 I am a doer: personally involved in community preparedness via CERT, founder of The Willows’ “Citizen’s Patrol” and member of East Palo Alto-based “Just Us” combatting gunfire and drug dealing in the 1990s, past chairperson of California’s Special Education Commission, Eagle Scout mentor, and founding business manager of TheatreWorks.

 I earned MBA and PhD degrees at Stanford.  My wife and I raised two sons here.

 I would be honored to continue representing you.

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