Berkeley police officers and firefighters endorsed Mayor Shirley Dean Wednesday in her bid for re-election.
“She’s always been very supportive of us. She’s really concerned about our safety and is very receptive to talking with us,” said Lt. Bud Stone, vice president of the Police Officers Association.
Lt. Rick Guzman, president of the Fire Fighters Association, credited Dean with advocating ballot measures to fund paramedic programs and remodel fire stations, as well as praised her support of the new station planned for the Berkeley hills.
The endorsements were not a surprise. Police and fire departments have traditionally supported Berkeley’s moderate faction and have endorsed Dean in all four of her mayoral bids.
Dean’s main rival in the November election, progressive candidate Tom Bates, said he was not deterred by the public safety endorsements.
“I think my endorsements are more reflective of what people want to see a candidate endorsed by,” he said.
Bates, who represented Berkeley in the state Assembly from 1976 to 1996, has garnered endorsements from the Sierra Club, the National Organization for Women, the county Green Party, the county Democratic Party, UC Berkeley Democrats and the Alameda Council of Labor, as well as numerous state and federal officials including Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.
Dean, though, said the fire and police endorsements could sway undecided voters.
“I think the people who provide these services are the finest in any city and they are very well respected,” she said.
Dean will have to rely on the prestige of the endorsements, because most police officers and firemen live outside city limits and are not eligible to vote in Berkeley. Of approximately 200 uniformed police officers, only 13 are Berkeley residents, according to Police Information Officer Mary Kusmiss.
Dean has failed thus far to match Bates in endorsements. Including police and fire officers, Dean has also won the support of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, the Berkeley Democratic Club, state Sen. Don Peralta, D-Oakland, and more than 30 neighborhood activists.
Dean downplayed Bates’ endorsement advantage, insisting that many of his supporters were old political allies from his time in the state Assembly, who do not reflect the views of Berkeley voters.
Bates, however, noted that as an eight-year incumbent, Dean had failed to develop strong relationships with state leaders, who he could lobby to defend Berkeley’s interests.
“Normally people default to the incumbent, but in this case it is a runaway for me,” Bates said. “I think that is a statement about my style of leadership.”