The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association announced they will be endorsing Ben Hall in his challenge to incumbent Mayor Annise Parker in this year's mayoral campaign. This comes well after the Houston Police Officers' Union endorsed the incumbent mayor back in March and just weeks after a fire that killed more firefighters than any single incident in Houston history.
Despite the fact that both organizations represent those who protect and serve the community, it is not surprising to see the HPOU and the HPFFA supporting different local candidates. It has happened numerous times in the past and usually has to do with how the current regime has supported both organizations. In this case, firefighters clearly believe Mayor Parker has not provided the department with the kind of support they need.
"The time has come to end Annise Parker's three-year campaign against Houston firefighters," said union president Jeff Caynon in a release. "Aware of our top rating among city departments, we work hard to maintain the citizens' trust, but the mayor's antagonistic management style wastes city resources, damages our nationally recognized fire department's reputation locally, and threatens to undermine the long-term financial security of firefighter families."
Certainly some of the problems stem from a healthcare deal not supported by firefighters with CIGNA. The union posted the following on their Facebook page along with their endorsement of Hall:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Support Our Journalism
Accepted is the unassailable proposition that healthy city employees promote more efficient and timely delivery of needed city services. Concededly, health care costs are increasing-- presenting growing fiscal demands on limited city resources-- but the expenses of sickness and sick employees in the long run can be more costly. An ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure! So, health insurance options for city employees is a choice that must be carefully assessed from all sides: the upfront cost side and from the delay and sickness cost side. The present mayor has shown no evidence of appreciating this multi-sided analysis--resulting in the disappointing CIGNA contract presently in place for city employees.
The same notation admits that Hall's law firm has been working to broker a deal between Blue Cross & Blue Shield and the city for healthcare.
Hall was a city attorney and he seems to be fairly well organized with a good coalition of backers, but his challenge of the mayor is likely a long shot, as with most incumbents, particularly ones who were in office during an economic upswing. But the endorsement of the firefighters will no doubt help Hall boost his chances.