International Association of Firefighters, Local #2434, the Turlock affiliate union for firefighters, announced their endorsements of Gary Soiseth for Turlock City Mayor and Bill DeHart for reelection to City Council.
According to Dale Melden, Turlock Firefighters Political Action Committee Director, the PAC met with all but two of the Mayoral and Council candidates on Sept. 2.
Melden explained that the interviewers, Casey Cockrell, Matt Mason, and PAC Treasurer Andrew Quimby, asked candidates questions pertaining to wages, working conditions, and benefits for Turlock Fire, as well as each candidate’s plans for the general direction of the City.
The executive board of the union formally decided who to endorse following their meeting with each of the candidates, after planning the interviews about a month in advance.
“Mr. Soiseth has a clear vision for the future of Turlock and recognizes the important role Public Safety plays in the success and health of our community” the union’s release stated. “Since being seated as a Turlock City Council member in 2010, Mr. DeHart has been dedicated to the staffing and support of Public Safety in the City of Turlock.”
Melden could not be reached for comment on why the PAC chose to only endorse one Council candidate, even though there are two seats that candidates are vying for.
Following the announcement of his endorsement by the PAC, Soiseth shared his gratitude on Facebook.
"I am humbled to receive the endorsement of Turlock Firefighters, Local #2434!” said Soiseth. “They believe in my vision for a stronger community, which starts with protecting those that protect us."
Both Soiseth and DeHart have also been endorsed by the Turlock Associated Police Officers PAC.
While the decisions were made with the best interest of union members in mind, Melden said, endorsements were also “100 percent” given to the candidates who “support Turlock citizens.”
The PAC’s endorsements will involve monetary support, although Melden did not disclose specific figures. As of June 30, according to FPPC documents filed, the PAC held more than $22,000.
Forms also show a total of 39 contributions from individual Turlock Fire Fighters as members of the union, International Association of Firefighters, Local #2434. The union is voluntary, according to Melden, as not all Turlock firefighters are required to join. Members that choose to join have $105 extracted from one paycheck every month, meaning $105 is taken out of every other paycheck. If a firefighter is a union member and chooses to support the PAC, $85 of the $105 is put towards general membership, and $20 is given to the PAC.
Any union member who chooses not to support the PAC, can instead have all $105 extracted from their paycheck supports the union general fund.
This means that each of the 39 union contributors chose to support the union PAC, in understanding the union’s statement of “Integrity, Strength, Honor and Pride.”