A Major Contest Ahead

  LOU PAULSON

Elections, by their very nature, will always have consequences.

Locals up and down the state know this fact all too well. Every year we hear stories of local affiliates moving councils in a new direction or winning key, swing seats because they’ve run effective political campaigns. Supporting candidates who will stand with firefighters can change a local’s relationship with city hall in the matter of a single election cycle.

It’s happened time and time again.

If anyone questions why our union places such a heavy importance on politics, they need not look any further than the stations that re-opened after the election of a sympathetic council, or the cuts avoided due to a funding measure that bore the firefighter brand. Involvement in the political process also helps for a seamless transition to the legislative work we do here in Sacramento, and this year, we’re faced with one of the most important political contests that our union has weighed in on in recent memory – the question of who will lead the state as its next governor.

The stakes are high, and the reasons are obvious.

The decisions made by the next governor will profoundly affect the future lives and livelihoods of our members on the job. On these issues, firefighters can't afford to sit out, and we can't afford lip service. We need to stand behind a candidate who, when challenges inevitably come before our profession, will stand behind us.

For that reason, your executive board has unanimously voted to back Gavin Newsom.

In both words and actions, Gavin has proven he is committed to giving firefighters a voice on the issues that matter to them most: workers’ comp, fire safety, post-traumatic stress and our retirement and survivor benefits. He has committed to CPF that firefighters won't just be a photo-op – we'll be on the team, and he has the track record to prove it.

Gavin Newsom has been an unwavering supporter of firefighters on the issues that matter ... even when it was unpopular. As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom held the line against fire staffing cuts during the recession, even as other big-city mayors were laying off firefighters and browning out stations. Gavin worked with employees on pay and pension issues, negotiating while other cities mayors were pushing drastic rollbacks of retirement security. He held the line against contracting local services even as others were pushing dangerous outsourcing proposals.

Understanding the importance of this endorsement, your executive board did not take this decision lightly.

In the weeks leading up to the endorsement, we researched the records of all active top-tier candidates for governor of California in both political parties and invited all of them to  in-person interviews.

Top candidates, including Newsom, former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Treasurer John Chiang and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin – all Democrats – accepted the invitations and were interviewed. The two main Republicans – businessman John Cox and Assembly member Travis Allen – declined the invitation, opting not to meet face-to-face with CPF’s executive board.

Throughout the interview process, one fact became undeniably clear – when it comes to the issues of wages, hours and working conditions for California’s firefighters, Gavin Newsom was the clear choice.

These are the issues that matter most to us, and they need to be the ones that matter to those in power, as well.

Stay safe.