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President Flavio Martinez of the Los Alamos Firefighters Union said the rank and file has endorsed Democrat Stephanie Richard for the District 43 House seat held nine consecutive terms by Republican Jeannette Wallace.
“We proudly stand in support of Stephanie Richard,” Martinez said in a news release. “She’s committed to public safety and will be a strong champion for area firefighters.”
Richard said she was “proud” to receive the endorsement in the release.
“Our firefighters are our first responders and every day they work to make us safe,” she said. “Los Alamos Fire Fighters face conditions unlike others in the state. They could end up putting out fires at the lab that involve radioactive materials, a situation that raises numerous other issues such as additional training and health risk concerns.”
Wallace said she is disappointed with the Richard endorsement.
“I have been close to the fire department for years,” she said. “I guess they went with the choice they felt was best for them.”
Fire Capt. Paul Grano, vice president of the Los Alamos Firefighters Union IAFF Local #3279 said they decided to endorse candidates this year after the county council chose to ignore a fact-finders report ruling in the union’s favor.
“The firefighters union has to become politically active,” Grano said. “We know what can happen when we don’t have decision-makers on our side. We feel the county councilors are in a bubble and only hear one side of issues. We are very disappointed in them. Only Councilor Vincent Chiravalle supported us. If the councilors are going to ignore two fact finder rulings and do whatever they want — then why even negotiate?”
The union has sought candidates they believe will listen to them and support their issues, Grano said, adding that along with Richard, they officially endorsed Democratic County Council candidate Ken Johnson late Tuesday.
“We still may endorse one or two other candidates,” he said. “Over the next month and a half, the firefighters are going to go door-to-door to let people know who we’re endorsing and why we’re endorsing them.”
There are more than 120 firefighters in Los Alamos County and Grano said Richard, a teacher who lives in White Rock, has the energy and spirit to make a difference for their community.
House District 43 includes Los Alamos County and a portion of Sandoval and Santa Fe counties.