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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Pete firefighters union endorse Ford, Nurse and Rouson



ST. PETERSBURG- The St. Petersburg Firefighters union has endorsed mayoral hopeful Kathleen Ford.

"We believe that Kathleen is going to be able to deliver on the issues that are most important to the firefighters," said president Will Newton. "We are hoping we can get her over this hurdle and get her into the general."

Ford's pledge to honor the union's contract and bolster the department's ranks put her over the top, Newton said.

Mayor Rick Baker initially proposed a citywide wage freeze to balance his 2010 budget. Ford has said the city should tap into its bulging reserves to honor its employees contracts.

Ford also said she would increase the number of firefighters on the department's trucks. St. Petersburg Fire Rescue is the only major department in Tampa Bay that allows two-man crews on ladder trucks. This is dangerous, Newton said. Most agencies staff ladder trucks with at least three or four firefighters.

Newton said the union ranked candidates according to their positions. None of the candidates alarmed the union.

"It was really tough," Newton.

In the District 6 race, the union picked City Council member Karl Nurse over rival Vel Thompson, a former city worker. Student Derrick Frohne did not come in for an interview.

Nurse already has a relationship with union leaders, who he has met with to discuss countywide EMS changes, Newton said.

In the District 5 race, the union choose Angela Rouson, a commissioner with the Pinellas County Housing Authority.

"Some of the qualities she brought forth was a willingness to learn what we would like done," Newton said. "That's going to be a tough race. There are three very good candidates in that race, but we are very satisfied with her."

The union will direct its members to volunteer for the candidates and will contribute financially to their campaigns, Newton said.

The union would re-endorse if these candidates don't make it into the general election, Newton said.

The union will not endorse in the District 2, 4 or 8 races prior to the general election, Newton said.

Here's a news release from the Karl Nurse campaign about the endorsement:

 St. Petersburg, FL-  The Karl Nurse Campaign announced today a highly sought after
endorsement from the St. Petersburg Fire Fighters in the race for St. Pete City Council
District 6.  Since the firefighters union was given due credit for tipping city elections in the
last municipal election cycle, their union support can be a critical difference in a low turn out
election.  The union has placed careful thought into the support of leaders who best
represent steady leadership on council given the dire budget climate and unsettled fire fighter
St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse stated,  “In addition to the recent
endorsement from the police union, I am proud to be endorsed by our fire fighters of St.
Petersburg.  Public safety is of paramount concern to me and I look forward to helping our
firefighters get the best training and protection so they can continue to do their jobs to
protect us.”
Karl Nurse lists public safety and job creation in District 6 as one of his most important
priorities.  In the year and a half since his appointment to Council, Nurse has
    * Led the effort to successfully bring stimulus money to hire more police for the streets of
St. Petersburg
    * Worked everyday to fight festering gang activity in our neighborhoods
    * Passed the ordinance to clear signs in convenience store windows, to add locks, and
reduce shootings in convenience stores
    * Fought for stimulus money to be used specifically to add one more additional CAPE
team, which is a team of police that go door to door in District 6 to shut down drug houses
    * Working to pass nuisance abatement laws  to go after nuisance rental properties that
house drug activity
    * Working with NAACP and neighborhood groups to pass the ordinance to rename
Preston Ave. to Paris Ave. in honor of the young girl slain by gang gunfire
Karl Nurse is known as a problem solver who can work effectively with a vast array of
people. In addition to securing the endorsement of the PBA and the St. Pete Firefighters,
Nurse is also supported by Mayor Rick Baker, Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, and  Pinellas
County Commissioners Calvin Harris, John Morroni, and  Ken Welch. In this climate of
increased crime and budget reductions, Karl Nurse provides steady leadership on council to
find the resources and proper management to make our city safer.

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:01pm]


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