City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 25, 2012
Influential Sacramento firefighter union makes endorsements

The coveted endorsement of the city firefighters' union was handed out for most of the City Hall races this week.

Mayor Kevin Johnson, SMUD director Rob Kerth (council District 2), attorney and non-profit director Phyllis Newton (District 4) and Councilman Kevin McCarty were granted firefighter support in their races in the June primary.

Interestingly, however, the union opted not to endorse either candidate running for the City Council seat in Meadowview's District 8. Neither incumbent Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell nor her challenger, former NAACP branch president Betty Williams, are supported by the union.

"As an organization, we're committed to endorsing candidates that place a high value on public safety and keeping their citizens safe," union spokesman Todd Filbrun told me. "And neither of the candidates adequately demonstrated that to us."

The union appears to be focusing on Kerth and Newton, both of whom are involved in highly-contested races packed with several candidates.

In a press release issued this morning, the union said Kerth "is a strong proponent of ensuring adequate public safety for Sacramento residents" and that he "believes that he must address other immediate issues in his community, restoring city programs and infrastructure that will allow Sacramento neighborhoods to thrive once again."

Union vice president Ryan Henry said the endorsement of Newton "is based on her profound understanding that public safety can no longer be compromised and that the welfare of Sacramento's citizens should not be subject to political expediency."

"Phyllis has made it clear to Sacramento Firefighters that she understands that public safety isn't just another budget-line item, but the paramount responsibility of city government," Henry said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

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