The Santa Barbara city firefighters’ union announced it will sit out this Fall’s council elections, citing disgust and disappointment over contract negotiations. Typically, council candidates covet the endorsement of firefighters, who can be counted on to spend generously and walk precincts on behalf of candidates. Union president Captain Pat McElroy said the union worked hard to at the bargaining table, but to no avail. Even though the two sides remain only a few percentage points off, McElroy said the union declared an impasse two weeks ago. To endorse candidates now, he said, would invite the accusation that the union was using its election-season influence to exact undue advantage at the bargaining table.
Earlier this year, however, the union donated $5,000 to incumbent city councilmembers Das Williams and $2,500 to Brian Barnwell. McElroy said that was to pay down the candidates’ prior campaign debts, but that it would spend nothing further. McElroy said the union had collected $85,000 from its members to spend on this year’s election.