Firefighters endorse council, mayoral candidates
by Jonathan Partridge | Patterson Irrigator
Oct 08, 2010 | 4824 views | 21 21 comments | 62 62 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Patterson firefighters union is getting involved in the local political arena for the first time this year, opting to endorse mayoral candidate Annette Smith and council candidates Larry Buehner and Deborah Novelli in upcoming city elections.

International Association of Firefighters Local 4577, which represents Patterson’s career firefighters, announced its endorsements this week after personally interviewing most of the candidates.

“We’re actually pretty excited about getting involved in the political process a little bit,” said Mike McLaughlin, president of IAFF Local 4577.

Firefighters say they worry about staffing shortages that have led one of the city’s fire stations to be regularly left empty, as well as a service agreement that prevents them from being the first responders to emergencies just outside city limits.

“We felt we needed to get involved politically to help educate people, including candidates and council members, about these important issues,” McLaughlin said.

Firefighters said they chose Smith because of her “practical idealism,” as well as her support for firefighters over the years. In a prepared statement, McLaughlin described her as a strong advocate of proper training, equipment and protective clothing for firefighters, adding that she played a key role in hiring the most recent six career firefighters added to the department.

Smith also told firefighters she will work to hire another nine firefighters to be consistent with the city’s general plan goal of one career firefighter per 1,000 people, McLaughlin said.

“Since she was first appointed to the council in July 2006 and then elected in November 2008 to a new four-year term, Annette Smith has been an energetic and consistent advocate of helping our firefighters better protect the public from the ravages of fire and other disasters,” McLaughlin said.

The firefighters picked Buehner because he has made public safety a top priority and hopes to revisit a shared services agreement between the city and the West Stanislaus Fire Protection District, McLaughlin said.

The city’s paid firefighters have become frustrated at times when they are at Station 2 in west Patterson and can see an accident on Interstate 5, but contractually must wait until West Stanislaus Fire Protection District responds, McLaughlin said. West Stanislaus uses the same fire chiefs who work for the city of Patterson, as well as Patterson-area volunteer firefighters. While the volunteers do a wonderful job, McLaughlin said, paid firefighters wish they could respond right away when things happen just outside of city limits.

In addition to praising Smith and Buehner, McLaughlin described Novelli as a strong supporter of firefighters and a tireless advocate for their safety.

“Deborah’s endless energy and positive attitude is just what the council needs to help tackle the important issues it faces,” he said.

The local fire union president said he thought it was critical to get involved in this election, given the challenges fire crews face these days.

In addition to the service agreement, the fire department has had to temporarily close Station 1 on Las Palmas Avenue — called a brownout — when there are too few firefighters on duty, because of vacations or illness. While volunteer firefighters who spend the night at Station 1 have helped, he estimated that the station is empty about 30 percent of the time, and the only firefighters on duty during those times are at Station 2 in west Patterson. McLaughlin also has advocated for a general increase in hiring to meet quotas called for by the general plan.

“We are critically understaffed for career firefighters,” he said.

Smith said she was honored to be endorsed by the firefighters.

“It’s a huge, huge gap in public safety, she said.

Novelli also said public safety is a huge priority, and both she and Smith said they worried about the brownouts at Station 1.

“I was just delighted, honored and thrilled to have (firefighters’) endorsement,” Novelli said.

Buehner said after Monday’s candidates forum that he did not think much of the endorsements at first, but he thinks public safety is important, and he wants to speak with representatives of all city departments.

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Luis Molina questioned the endorsements of Novelli, Buehner and Smith as a group, saying there was a perceived alliance among those candidates. Buehner told the Irrigator in a questionnaire last week that he thought having him and Novelli on the council and Smith as mayor would make for a cohesive council, and all three candidates’ campaign signs often appear close together throughout town.

McLaughlin did not know what was wrong with the candidates being potentially aligned, adding that firefighters did not realize some of the candidates were supporting each other until reading the responses to questionnaires they had given them.

Still, he said the firefighters simply endorsed candidates whose priorities most reflected their own.

“We definitely took each of the candidates on their own merits,” he said.

In addition to providing candidates with an extensive questionnaire, a three-person committee from IAFF Local 4577 interviewed candidates individually before making their endorsements, McLaughlin said.

He said he was pleased with the lineup of candidates this year.

“It was very difficult (to make a decision), because there were very good candidates for council and mayor,” he said.

• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

Comments
(21)
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patfireben
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October 21, 2010
jhester

The first two comments on this article came across as an attack so to speak on what Mike McLaughlin was stating in this article and they contained many false statements. We as firefighter's whether Career or Volunteer, we stick by each other just like if they were family. As for the timing of posts - not everyone has the luxury of time to sit around their computers and at the instance that that the first person posts on here that they follow suit with their own post within seconds. I have no ties to the Firefighter's union whatsoever other then working side by side with them to help protect the community and trying to do our job better.

As for my relation to Councilwoman Smith - what does it matter? I am not related to Larry or Deborah. If I was related to Barack Obama then of course I would probably vote for him too but I am not and therefore I didn't because I don't share the same views. The fact that I am related to her is a factor in which anyone in the same position it would be the same for them BUT the fact that she has worked closely with the Fire Department in the past and shares the same type of vision for public safety that most of the Active Firefighter's do is a major factor in getting my vote. Aside from my family and friends the next most important thing to me is that Fire Department and the work that we provide for the community. I've been with the Fire Department for 14 years now and I have seen a lot of change and there is still a lot that we can do in regards to change that can help protect the community even better and I honestly believe in regards to Public Safety that these candidates are the best ones for the job regardless of who they are and who they are related to. So in closing, public safety in this city is the most important thing to me NOT Walmart, NOT where the Health Center is located, NOT the fact that there isn't a traffic signal at M Street yet, BUT Public Safety period!
jhester
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October 20, 2010
I have nothing but respect and admiration for our city's firefighters. You are heros who risk your lives for us on a regular basis, and we're lucky to have you. However, this parade of comments is coming across as just a bit too orchestrated, not to mention defensive. At least in some cases, it's also coming across as forced. I sure hope that no one is feeling pressured to make these statements supporting the slate of Smith, Buehner and Novelli.

I was also not crazy about seeing that some of the comments were posted last evening shortly after the Irrigator reported that there was a gas leak at city hall. Surely, these messages could have waited another day and not been posted right on the heels of what appeared to be a fairly significant fire dept event last night. I realize that not every fire fighter was on duty last night, but the timing still didn't really sit well with me.

Finally, it should be known that one of the gentlemen who posted his support for the alliance is directly related to councilwoman smith. I totally understand why you'd want to support your relative and the slate of candidates she's with, but please don't make it sound like your support is based on some objective look at all the candidates. It would have been better if you had just owned up to the fact that you're related to her.

We get the point guys. This is your first time endorsing candidates and you need to stand by your union's decision. Please just know that at least some of the readers don't view this as some natural groundswell for the candidates your union endorsed. All of the candidates have said that they place a priority on public safety and there are many other issues upon which I'm basing my vote. While I respect your opinions, I'm not going with the slate.
fire75
|
October 20, 2010
I fully support the union and the decision to back these candidates. I belive they will do there best to help us .So we can better serve this community . firefighter Danny Silva
brandonmx1978@yahoo.com
|
October 20, 2010
Brandon Mimms

Patterson Fire Department Career Acting Captain/West Stanislaus Volunteer Firefighter and Stanislaus County Paramedic

I am slightly confused as to how this information surfaced from the "Patterson Observer" However,I do believe Annette Smith, Larry Buehner, and Deborah Novelli will do what's right for the Fire Department and to better assist us to serve and protect this community as a number 1 priority.

As a board member for IAFF Local 4577 and former secretary, I fully support my unions' endorsements for mayor and the city council.

Thank You,

Brandon J Mimms
Mmclaughlin
|
October 20, 2010
I can assure you, the career personnel respond to more than their share of calls in the Fire District. In fact, expanding the shared services agreement would not only provide faster response times and more personnel to citizens living in the unincorporated areas of Patterson, it could also eliminate potential City liabilities related to FLSA laws which prohibit employees from volunteering for their employer.

As for the stone age/bed rock comment, I can only say our department has grown leaps and bounds in the past 5 years, but we also have a lot more growing to do. :-)
popwarnerfootball2010
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October 20, 2010
What my real Question should be is that, How many of your "Career" staff Respond to Volunteer or District Calls while your not on duty? This Dept is stuck in the stone age and your living in Bed Rock.
RichTaylor
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October 19, 2010
Rich Taylor-Firefighter

I fully support the decision of our union to back the selected candidates.

fire75
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October 19, 2010
I fully support the unions choice of candidates. I feel the are the best for the job.
cpriola
|
October 19, 2010
I am a career Engineer with Patterson Fire Department and a retired volunteer member of West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District.

As a board member for IAFF Local 4577, I fully support my unions' endorsements for mayor and the city council.

Chris Priola
salmorales
|
October 18, 2010
Salvador Morales

I am a volunteer firefighter.

I also endorse Annette Smith, Deborah Novelli and Larry Buehner for Mayor and City Council and I support the Career Firefighter's Union, IAFF Local 4577 in doing so as well.

Responding to I-5 and District calls I always see Paid Firefighters showing that is because volunteers are not always around especially in the "AM time and afternoons" we have jobs and life's our self's. So makes sense paid personnel show up. THE TRUTH :)

Thank You.

mambrosino
|
October 18, 2010
I support the decision of the union.

Career Fire Captain & Volunteer Captain

I believe that I can speak for any member in the fire service that our goal, our desire is to "serve and protect life and property". I ask that if you have some unclear feelings about the political decisions that you take a minute to look at this from another angle. The items that we are working toward are for the people, the people of this city and district, and some times outside of this district. No one on this gracious earth is perfect, but we need to use the ones that could be of assistance to accomplish what is most important.

~Michael Ambrosino
patfireben
|
October 18, 2010
Ben Harr - Patterson/West Stanislaus Active Volunteer & Vice President of the Patterson Volunteer Firefighter's Association

I PERSONALLY endorse Annette Smith, Deborah Novelli & Larry Buehner for Mayor and City Council and I support the Career Firefighter's Union in doing so as well.

I chose these candidates as an individual who has voting rights after reading the Patterson Irrigator's interviews of all the candidates and having talked to these said candidates before. It is in my belief that these candidates will help better the community in regards to Public Safety.

I will reiterate what Mike McLaughlin stated before and that IS that the Volunteer Firefighter's Association as a group does NOT endorse or support ANY candidates for office. Each one of us have our own voting rights to support whichever candidate him/she support and I as a REGISTERED voter of the City of Patterson believe that Annette Smith, Deborah Novelli and Larry Buehner are the right people for the job!
mgreunke
|
October 18, 2010
*their not theyre
mgreunke
|
October 18, 2010
Marty Greunke

Patterson City career firefighter / West Stanislaus Volunteer firefighter

As a member of IAFF Local 4577 I fully support our choices: Annette Smith, Larry Buehner, and Deborah Novelli. As a life long Patterson residant I only want to see the best for this community and I really feel that these 3 want and will try to do the same. I have never been approached by anyone asking for my political views so I have no idea where this "Patterson Observer" is getting theyre info.
nickjam
|
October 18, 2010
Nicholas Jamieson

I am both a career firefighter and a volunteer firefighter.

I, too, support the decision of our Union to back Annette Smith, Larry Buehner, and Deborah Novelli in the upcoming election.

z1
|
October 18, 2010
Casey Zenger-Firefighter

I fully support the decision of our union to back the selected candidates.
Joe911
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October 18, 2010
Joe Winters IAFF 4577 Vice President

I fully support the decision of our union to back the selected candidates.
Mmclaughlin
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October 18, 2010
PattersonObserver: The truth? Hardly. I can assure you, ALL 12 of the members of Patterson Firefighters’ Association/IAFF Local 4577 fully support and in fact voted to endorse Annette Smith, Larry Buehner, and Deborah Novelli. In addition, although the Volunteer Association has never involved itself in politics, I’m confident the vast majority (on an individual basis) support our endorsements as well. We feel strongly these candidates are the best choices to address the serious public safety issues our city faces.

~Mike McLaughlin

Mmclaughlin
|
October 18, 2010
Popwarnerfootball2010: Funny you should ask that question. In fact, 11 of the 12 “career” firefighters are also volunteers with the West Stanislaus Fire District, and 8 of those 11 are active Patterson volunteers and respond off-duty to calls in the unincorporated areas of Patterson. Considering there are about 18 total “active” volunteers in Patterson, the career firefighters actually comprise almost half of the volunteer force. Mind you, the department couldn’t operate without those 10 active volunteers. If we didn’t have them to respond to incidents like structure fires, we likely wouldn’t be able to comply with OSHA rules and NFPA standards.

All that we are asking is for a modification of the agreement between the City and District to allow for a much quicker initial response to certain calls by the on-duty personnel (volunteer sleepers included). To my knowledge, nobody is opposed to this. It’s just a matter of making it happen. Hope this clarifies the issue for you.

~Mike McLaughlin

PattersonObserver
|
October 18, 2010
Are you ready for the truth? It seems that many of the firefighters are not pleased with their union's choice.

Quite a few of the local firefighters are supporting Molina, Cuellar and Leonard in the upcoming elections. A few of them have questioned the reasons that their union has backed who they have backed. They, the real firefighters, have seen for themselves the under-the-table dealings that went on for these endorsements.

I spoke with several firefighters this weekend and not one of them is planning on voting for the slate "endorsed" by their union. Not a single one.

One of them even stated that the endorsement was made by a very small group with an agenda of their own. "Patterson politics in the firehouse" was what another said.

As many have pointed out, the "endorsement" of this union's leadership smells deeply of the corruptness of Patterson Politics.



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