Endorsement watch: Pushback on the process

The early endorsement by the firefighters’ union – and now the Houston Police Officers Union – of Rep. Sylvester Turner for Mayor has ruffled some feathers.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

The Houston Police Officers’ Union on Tuesday followed their firefighter counterparts who on Monday endorsed Turner, a 25-year state representative who long has maintained close ties to first responders. Both organizations said that Turner’s legislative record placed him head and shoulders above his competitors and that the decision to endorse him was easy.

The endorsements arrived as various mayoral campaigns are only beginning to roll out their platforms and before the organizations knew the full field of candidates available to consider. In 2009, the last open mayoral race, the unions only chose to endorse in August. Sometimes, the organizations have made endorsements for a November election as late as September.

The firefighters union endorsement is drawing particular scrutiny because the group did not screen any candidates other than Turner, who brokered a deal this month between the city and the fire pension board that earned plaudits from firefighters.

Scott Wilkey, spokesman for the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341, said a more extensive interview process was unnecessary. Given the public statements of the well-qualified field, Wilkey said, the union already knew the positions of most of the candidates.

“Screening candidates who are on record as hostile to firefighters or who are profoundly ignorant of public safety issues just wastes everyone’s time,” Wilkey said in a statement.


Asked why former congressman Chris Bell and businessman Marty McVey, who have expressed conceivably less threatening positions on pension reform, were not considered, Wilkey said the union compared “a 25-year history versus a 10-year absence in politics versus a neophyte.”

See here for the background. It’s obvious why the HPFFA did not bother to screen candidates like CM Stephen Costello, CM Oliver Pennington, and Bill King. Everyone knows where each side stands on the single issue that matters the most to the firefighters, so why waste everyone’s time? As for the likes of Chris Bell and Marty McVey, endorsing organizations are free to set their own rules and follow their own procedures. The tradeoff for a streamlined process in this case is the possibility of alienating someone who could have been friendly or at least neutral to you. Now that person’s supporters might be less inclined to listen to you, a non-trivial factor in a race that will surely go to a runoff, and you might wind up with a Mayor you’ve annoyed by your process. You pay your money and you take your chances.

But wait, I hear you cry. What about that other guy?

That process snubbed not only McVey but also Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who has not yet announced a mayoral run though people with firsthand knowledge of his plans say he will formally launch his bid in the next few weeks. Garcia, who declined to comment through an adviser, spent 23 years as a Houston police officer.

“Adrian would have been screened Friday if Adrian had announced prior to Friday,” said Houston Police Officers Union president Ray Hunt, who defended the process as thorough and welcoming.

Sources may say that Sheriff Garcia is running for Mayor, but until he himself says it, he’s not a candidate. No organization is going to consider or screen a non-candidate. It happens every two years that some late-entering candidates miss out on endorsements they might have won if they’d been in the race earlier. In this case, the endorsement process was a lot earlier than usual, but them’s the breaks. It’s all part of the process.

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2 Responses to Endorsement watch: Pushback on the process

  1. Steven Houston says:

    Turner has supported both groups in the legislature for decades and not just for pension issues. He has helped work out compromises in the past that made sense and like it or not, Turner is currently the only viable candidate that can get city workers to the table without spending years in court. So those who want any hope of “compensation reform” that doesn’t end up in court longer than the 6 years any potential candidate will have in office might want to at least consider him.

    Seriously, he can’t do worse than the last 5 mayors have done, each of them kicking bills into the future for someone else to handle all while lowering compensation for the majority of employees in one way or another. The police pension contract is locked in until 2023 so they are fairly secure for the duration of any new mayor. The municipal plan has a similar arrangement and if HFD’s recent deal goes through, they are safe for 3 years unless you can convince ANY of them to come to the table of their own free will (hint: telling them that all the city’s financial ills are due to the employees getting a third less in compensation than other big cities probably won’t work Mr. King, Costello, and Pennington).

    Garcia holding off on an official announcement merely made it expedient for the police union to back Turner quickly, there was definitely some support for the guy from what I heard but he wanted to play the waiting game. Bell is still a decent choice but some of his comments about reform raised concerns and is there really a soul out there that thinks McVey is a viable candidate? The guy cites former governor Perry as an inspiration yet worked as an Obama appointee; each facet alienating him from wholesale numbers of die hard political party supporters. That he thinks the city has a revenue problem rather than a spending problem kills him for others too. Since he claims to be so much better equipped than the others running for office, might I remind him of how many voters took great exception to “out of town Brown” for concentrating on traveling internationally?

    Each candidate had an opportunity to impress either or both groups. The three pension hawks managed to leave an impression over the years (duh!) and the police union was willing to hear anyone out but realistically and honestly, can anyone come forth with a better choice for their concerns? And if Turner doesn’t win, given the situation and binding legalese, whoever does win is going to need these two groups as much as they need him (if not more so).

  2. joshua ben bullard says:

    Sylvester turner for mayor 2015 told me in person that he was in fact in favor of “right to work fees” on all citizens of the 2.2 million Houstonians,=Heres how the scam works

    there are 2400 taxi permits in Houston=approx 1900 are owned by one man,so anytime a citizen takes a ride from the 1900 taxi’s they have to spend an additional right to work fee collected by the driver that in turn gets turned over the the guy that owns the 1900 right to work taxi permits(and if the driver doesnt pay it then the city will tow his car)=now unlimited uber is slowly bringing this type of unfair labor practice to a close however the citizens of houston must still suffer because the current mayor,mayor parker doesnt sign the executive order that is on her desk that lifts all regualtory limits on taxis permits,san diego california has lifted all limits on taxi permits=milwakee wisconsin has lifted all limits on taxi pemits=washington dc has no limits on taxi pemits=minniapolis has no more limits on taxi permits and boston mass is in the process of lifting all limits on taxi permits,Candidate Sylvester turner must announce that if elected he will not support any limits on taxi permits, otherwise he will not be elected.

    Imagine that =you invest nothing,you dont invest in the drivers car,you dont invest in the insurance,you dont pay anything towards the drivers salary or medical or pension and you still collect 160$ times 1900 drivers a week for the right to work in houston=and that 160$ a week times 2.2 million citizens= is millions of dollars ,millions of dollars that the citizens could put back on their own kitchens tables or use to further the betterment of life for their familys.We must lift all limits on all hired transportation vehicles in houston,not just selectivly for uber but everyone,sylvester turner supporting limits is shameful and costly in the millions to all houstonians.
    joshau ben bullard

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