PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Firefighters Association is not backing its own Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the Portland Fire & Rescue department, but rather endorsing her opponent.
The union, representing Portland firefighters, told KOIN 6 News on Wednesday it is endorsing Rene Gonzalez for Portland City Commissioner.
The Portland Police Association released its own statement later the same day, saying it is backing Gonzalez as well.
“Rene Gonzalez is deeply committed to making Portland safe for everyone,” PFA’s president, Isaac McLennan, said. “Our city has and still is growing fast, and we need our Fire Bureau to grow with it. Rene understands the value of a City that prioritizes public safety so residents can live, work, and play safely. Portland Firefighters care deeply about the community we serve and we will always answer the call for help and we know that Rene Gonzalez will too.”
In February, Gonzalez told KOIN 6’s Ken Boddie he was gunning for Hardesty’s seat due to her leadership being ineffective and “too ideological.”
The president of the PPA, which is the union that represents police officers in the city, claims Gonzalez has the “right priorities” to ensure dispatchers and law enforcement in Portland have enough staffing and resources.
“Portland is a wonderful city, and it needs leadership with public safety priorities to get us back on the right track,” PPA President Aaron Schmautz stated.
It’s worth noting that in Dec. 2021, Hardesty filed a lawsuit against the Portland police union, its former president and a Portland police officer for $5 million, saying they leaked information that erroneously identified Hardesty as the suspect in a hit-and-run.
Hardesty currently oversees PF&R, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Office of Community & Civic Life.
“I respect the decision of the 14-member executive board, and I still have the back of the over 750 firefighters in Portland,” Hardesty said in a statement issued to KOIN 6 News on Wednesday evening. “I worked closely with Fire & Rescue to explore the option of temporarily providing double overtime when mandatory overtime has been necessary, but Chief Boone and I agreed that the substantial cost required to adjust the bureau’s current budget would negatively impact Firefighter safety, performance, and operations. We are following recommendations made during a recent work session to address the staffing shortage through aggressive recruitment and budget adjustments in the regular budget process.”