The Seattle Police Officers' Guild (SPOG) and Seattle Firefighters Local 27 have endorsed Joe Mallahan for mayor, union and campaign spokespeople say. The two groups announced this evening that they would hold a press conference on Tuesday to break the news, but firefighters' union president Kenny Stuart confirmed tonight that their endorsement would go to Mallahan.
"We think he's going to be the best mayor of the two candidates for public safety, labor, and for the city of Seattle," Stuart says. "It became obvious to us that his basic values were in line with labor and firefighters as well as his appreciation for workers." The firefighters' union met twice with each mayoral candidate, and Mallahan demonstrated the best understanding of union interests, he says, particularly on providing sufficient staff on the scene of emergency calls.
"Joe demonstrated an ability to understand those issues not just on the surface—he understood the issues to a greater depth that most of the candidates," he says.
Mallahan spokeswoman Charla Neuman says, "I think it is very important for the campaign. They play a huge role to get out the message that Joe is a good manager, and he knows the crucial role that the city plays in helping all the workers that help protect the city."
The blessing of well-respected police and fire unions is a major victory for Mallahan, even though the news isn't terribly shocking—Mike McGinn is the sort of lefty rarely embraced by public safely lobbies. Stuart declined to comment on why they didn't endorse McGinn. But choosing Mallahan is somewhat surprising due to his history as an executive at T-Mobile, which was exposed for trying to prevent unions from forming. Stuart says he asked Mallahan about "about those questions very intently" and Mallahan explained that "he didn’t supervise any of those employees and wasn’t involed in any of those decisions."
SPOG had endorsed several candidates in July for the primary race; however, a mayoral endorsement was notably absent until now. There are about 1,300 employees in the police department, and the overwhelming majority of them are represented by SPOG.
Neuman adds, "We want to help Seattle move forward in an efficient and effective manner so everyone gets what they need from city government, as opposed to the candidate who wants to look backwards and just say 'no tunnel.'"