The union representing City of Santa Barbara firefighters announced it’s endorsing candidates Andria Martinez Cohen, Cathy Murillo, and Randy Rowse for their respective districts in this November’s council race. Rowse and Murillo are incumbents, and four years ago, the firefighters did not endorse either of them.
Union spokesperson Tony Pighetti said whatever the union’s differences were with Rowse, he’d always been level-headed and accessible. Although the union endorsed Murillo’s chief opponent, Sharon Byrne, four years ago, Murillo has been with the firefighters when it mattered, Pighetti said. Her vote was critical to retaining fire protection services at the city’s airport when airport administrators wanted to cut back for budgetary reasons. Of Martinez Cohen, Pighetti said, her lack of experience won’t stop her from asking “the tough questions.” Nor did it hurt that both her parents — both public school teachers — are staunch union members.
Often the firefighters endorse jointly with the union representing city police officers, but thus far, the Police Officers Association has declined to endorse any of the candidates this year, preferring to express their dissatisfaction with the leadership of Chief Cam Sanchez and his second-in command, Deputy Chief Frank Mannix.