Turlock Firefighters Local #2434 has announced through campaign signs and mailers that the group is endorsing Incumbent Councilwoman Amy Bublak and Candidate Steven Nascimento for the 2012 Turlock City Council Election.
Endorsements may include not only financial contributions, but have also included political campaign signs around town that read “Turlock Firefighters Endorse Amy Bublak and Steven Nascimento for Turlock City Council” and political mailers.
Bublak shared her appreciation for the support on her facebook, stating, “Proud to have the Turlock Firefighters, Local #2434 supporting me. Thank you!”
"I believe that our local firefighters recognize the need for strong and focused leadership to address the serious economic challenges faced by the city,” stated Council Candidate Steven Nascimento. “At the end of the day, it is in their best interest to support candidates who are committed to growing the local economy and investing in our community. I have a great deal of respect for our public safety personnel and I am proud to have their support.”
While Nascimento explained why he thought the firefighters supported his campaign, the Turlock Firefighters union endorsing the candidates would not respond to questions regarding their decision to support the two candidates.
There have been questions, however, as to whether or not the interviewing process for the endorsement was an equal process amongst the candidates. Turlock City Council Candidate Sergio Alvarado stated that he was not even interviewed by the Turlock Firefighters Union to be considered for the endorsement.
“I suspect they interviewed the two candidates that they already knew who they were going to endorse,” stated Alvarado. “If they knew who they were going to endorse, that’s fine, but at least make it seem like it was an equal process. I would say it was highly questionable, and even slightly unethical, to not grant an interview to each candidate, especially from a public safety organization.”
Incumbent Councilwoman Mary Jackson also stated that she had not been interviewed by the Turlock Firefighters Union for consideration of their endorsement.
“I was not sent a questionnaire to fill out or called about an interview from the Turlock Firefighters union,” stated Jackson. “In the past, I have filled out a questionnaire and sat down for an interview before an endorsement was made.”
The Firefighters political mailer sent out did explain somewhat their decision to endorse Bublak and Nascimento. The front of the mailer showed a big roaring fire with three firefighters working to put it out and states, “Because Your Safety Matters.” The other side of the mailer states, “Amy and Steve stand for responsible leadership that protects public safety and taxpayer pocketbooks. We strongly support them for city council. – Your Turlock Firefighters”
Both Alvarado and Jackson expressed that they would have appreciated the equal opportunity to discuss the issues with the union that is part of the City of Turlock workforce.
“At first I was pretty upset that I wasn’t given the chance to interview, especially since I will not back down off my stance that public safety is priority number one,” shared Alvarado. “But since there has been money involved, I refuse to be beholden to a group/organization.”
“Unions absolutely have the right to endorse candidates and issues. I would have appreciated the opportunity to win the endorsement of our firefighters,” explained Jackson. “I support the department and have an abiding respect for the great work all our employees do for the City of Turlock.”
Jackson went on to explain some of her concerns with unions endorsing candidates who will ultimately be making decisions regarding union negations including salary and benefits.
“I do have some concerns about endorsements from the six labor unions where city council members make decisions on employee’s salaries and benefits,” she continued. “I think it is okay to take an endorsement but I will not accept money from one of our union’s as a group. I would accept an individual union member’s donation to my campaign or to another candidate’s. I am, however, uncomfortable with what could appear as a ‘conflict of interest’.”
Jackson also stated that she would like to clarify her position on campaign funding as a whole.
“I do not take more than $1,000 from any individual or union and my entire donor list is available to the public,” she stated. “I have always talked about city government being open and transparent, and feel it is important for elected officials and candidates to be open and transparent as well.”
Previously, Nascimento has addressed a perceived conflict of interest.
Nascimento stated at a previously held Council Candidate Forum, put on by the League of Women Voters, that although his brother is firefighter for the City of Turlock and a member of the Firefighters union, his decisions would not be impacted when it comes time to make negotiations with such groups.
As of September 30, 2012, the Turlock Firefighters PAC has spent $1,051.78 on both Amy Bublak and Steven Nascimento political signs, totaling $2,103.56. Turlock firefighters individually contributed $180 each to the Firefighters PAC since January 1, 2012.
The next deadline to file campaign finance forms with the Turlock City Clerk is October 25, 2012.