Laborers Council, Fire, Police unions withdraw endorsements of Jefferson Smith for Portland mayor

The Oregon and Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers, Portland Fire Fighters Association Local 43, and the Portland Police Association (PPA) have withdrawn their endorsements of Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith.

The Police and Fire union announcement was made in a joint press release Oct. 11 — less than two weeks after Willamette Week reported on a 1993 altercation Smith had with a woman while he was a student at the University of Oregon. The woman required medical treatment and Smith agreed to sign a diversion agreement admitting he was wrong and paid the woman’s medical bills to avoid prosecution.

“As you have likely seen unfolding in the press recently, there have been numerous events in Mr. Smith’s personal life that raise serious questions about his integrity, honesty, and fitness for office,” Fire Fighters Local 43 said in a written statement. “To be clear, we support Mr. Smith’s platform, and were we looking solely at candidates’ positions on firefighter issues, the endorsement would stand.

“In this situation, however, the candidate’s character clearly runs counter to our values. Quite simply, we do not take lightly the respect we all share as firefighters in this community and cannot stand alongside someone with questionable ethics and decision-making skills.”

Daryl Turner, president of the PPA, said, “Our members count on us to make recommendations and, at this point in the campaign, we cannot make a strong recommendation for either candidate.”

Smith’s opponent for mayor is former city commissioner Charlie Hales. Labor is split on the candidates, with several labor groups making no recommendations at all.

On Oct. 16, the Oregon and Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers, which initially endorsed Smith, issued this press release:
“Effective immediately, the Oregon and Southern Idaho District Council of Laborers is no longer endorsing Jefferson Smith’s campaign for mayor of Portland. After serious consideration by our Board, the OSIDC of Laborers has determined that this is the best decision for our membership. Additionally, we will not be endorsing Charlie Hales’ campaign, choosing to remain neutral during the remainder of this election.”

Smith still has the backing of two other City worker unions — AFSCME Local 189 and Laborers Local 483 — as well as the Portland Association of Teachers and Communications Workers of America Local 7901.

Hales has endorsements from Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, Operating Engineers Local 701, Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Service Employees International Union locals 49 and 503, Teamsters Joint Council 37, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.

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