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Heidi receives support and backing from local police

August 10, 2007 - Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9, who represent the officers of the Columbus Police Department, endorsed Heidi Samuel for Columbus City Council in her head-to-head race for an unexpired term against a recently appointed council member.

Read about it in the story from the Columbus Dispatch


Friction aside, police union backs mayor for re-election
Friday,  August 10, 2007 3:37 AM
By Robert Vitale

Columbus police officers took sides last night with the man they've opposed most of this year, giving their union's sought-after endorsement to Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

"We at the union have had our issues with the mayor," Fraternal Order of Police President Jim Gilbert said of ongoing disputes over staffing and equipment. "We're willing to extend our hand to work with him."

Members simply decided that Coleman was the strongest candidate, he said. Coleman, a Democrat, is being challenged by Republican lawyer William M. Todd.

The FOP's Capital City Lodge No. 9 also endorsed two City Council incumbents and three Republican challengers -- Democrats Andrew Ginther and Michael C. Mentel, and GOP nominees Bill Brownson, Larry Thomas and Heidi Samuel -- for five seats on the November ballot.

It's the first time Coleman has won police-union backing since his first run for mayor in 1999. He ran against only a write-in candidate for his second term in 2003, but the FOP declined to make an endorsement.

"The mayor wants the same thing police on the street want: the best-equipped, best-trained police force in the country," Bryan Clark, spokesman for the Democrats' council and mayoral campaigns, said last night.

Coleman won the FOP endorsement in 1999 when he promised to hire additional police officers, but his administration has bickered with Chief James G. Jackson and the union all year over whether the force has grown quickly enough.

There were 1,793 officers with the Columbus Division of Police when Coleman took office. By the end of 2007, his administration says, there will be 1,909.

Gilbert said he wants to meet with Coleman in coming weeks to discuss staffing and the state of police vehicles.

"I will lead the FOP in the direction membership wants, to work out our issues with the city," he said.

Todd, making his first run for public office, had hoped to snag the union endorsement this year. The FOP is one of the few conservative outposts in organized labor, and he has echoed its contention that the police division is inadequately staffed and ill-prepared to replace a rising number of retirees.

But Ginther, who leads the council's safety committee, said union screeners seemed more focused on the future than on past differences with City Hall Democrats.
Coleman, Todd and all but one council candidate interviewed with an FOP screening committee.

Although police-union backing is coveted in Columbus political races as a tough-on-crime seal of approval, it rarely has been a good omen of late.

FOP-endorsed candidates have won three City Council races and lost seven since 2001. That winning percentage would have ranked the union behind Indiana and Minnesota last year in Big Ten football.

Still, the union's backing is prized.

"It shows a candidate's viability, seriousness," said Samuel, who has spent about 20 hours riding with officers. "They're well-respected."



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