Toledo Fire Chiefs’ Association endorses Mayor Mike BellWritten by Casey Harper | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Toledo Fire Chiefs’ Association endorsed Mayor Mike Bell on June 12. The nomination comes as a surprise given tense union negotiations due to cuts Bell made to balance the budget during his term.
“I would say I am surprised only because I understood that to do the things I had to do, I had to make a lot of people unhappy,” Bell said. “It’s nice when an organization stands up and says they understand even when they didn’t like everything that had to happen.”
Bell inherited a deficit of more than $48 million, and through contract negotiations with the Toledo Fire Chiefs’ Association, cut wages and benefits to the fire chiefs, according to Deputy Chief and Toledo Fire Chiefs’ Association President Gary Martin.
“Mayor Bell and his team have eliminated the over $48,000,000 deficit which they inherited and accomplished this without layoffs,” Martin wrote in a letter endorsing Bell. “In a recent article in Fire Engineering, it was stated that the city of Cincinnati is facing a $35,000,000 deficit and is looking at closing half of their fire stations. Mayor Bell has a positive record to stand on.”
Vice President of the Toledo Fire Chiefs’ Association Ken Gehring called Bell a man who doesn’t “run from making hard choices.”
“We didn’t go down the road of Detroit and now we have a small surplus,” Gehring said.
Martin said that the living conditions in the fire stations have improved under Bell’s administration. He said a new fire station was opened, a new station will be built and another station is being extensively renovated.
Martin cited disagreements over Bell’s stance on the failed Senate Bill 5, which sought to limit unions’ collective bargaining powers, as well as his claim of “exigent circumstance,” but praised Bell for holding his ground throughout the controversy.
“Imagine a politician having the conviction to do and say what they believe is right instead of worrying about the political ramifications,” he said. “That in itself says a lot about the current mayor.”
Independent candidate Councilman D. Michael Collins congratulated Bell, but said he hopes to secure the endorsements of Toledo Firefighters Local 92, the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association and the Toledo Police Command Officers Association.
“I believe it is important to have the endorsement of our municipal safety forces and I value their opinion,” Collins said.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) endorsed Democratic challenger Anita Lopez. According to Ohio Communications Director for AFL-CIO Mike Gillis, the organization represents 16,000 workers within the borders of Toledo.
“An endorsement by organizations like us do not just come with a piece of paper,” he said. “It has greater meaning for voters in Toledo. But also it means volunteers and campaign infrastructure.”
Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara is also among those running for mayor.