Response to Firefighter Endorsement Editorial

I’ll admit, I didn’t anticipate much of a response to my most recent commentary. Evidently, I struck a nerve.  That wasn’t my intent.  To be fair to all candidates, I’ll post the Bob Huber Campaign’s official response and also clearly indicate that Steve Sojka’s Campaign has no interest in commenting on my editorial.  That said, here is their response and additional clarification from me.

In fairness to our brave Firefighters we must respond to the article posted by Mike Chandler on www.votesimivalley.com June 17, 2010.

Chandler Comment 1: “The Ventura County Firefighters Association did not conduct any interviews. They simply selected Bob Huber as their candidate to endorse for Simi Valley Mayor. ”

This is totally inaccurate as Bob Huber was interviewed at the Firefighters headquarters in Camarillo at length by the Firefighters board members asking numerous detailed questions.

When people or organizations endorse candidates, the key component for endorsing a candidate is their record of service.  The Firefighters when they interviewed Bob Huber were aware of his long term record as a leader in public safety supporting Firefighters including the following:

  • Bob Huber is the key leader in building the state of the art Fire, Sheriff and Police Academy to ensure best trained fire and police officers in the United States serving our community.
  • Bob Huber is former District Attorney known as a tough prosecutor putting criminals behind bars.
  • After the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bob, as College Trustee, initiated the installation of the “Emergency Response System” at all three colleges in order to protect our students.
  • Bob Huber has faithfully served continuously as a Ventura County Judge Pro Tem since 1981.
  • Bob Huber is the former member of the Ventura County Criminal Justice Planning Board.
  • Bob Huber is a Charter Member of the Simi Valley Police Foundation Roundtable.

Bob Huber is current Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Ventura County Community College District and has worked closely with the Firefighters since he was elected in 2004.  The Ventura County Firefighters are trained by the Ventura County Community District and Bob Huber has been a staunch supporter of high caliber training for our Firefighters.  Additionally, Bob Huber has strongly supported the adequate funding and building of the new state of the art Fire, Sheriff and Police Academy where our Firefighters are being trained.  This modern Academy is currently being constructed at the Camarillo site of the Fire Academy.

Firefighters endorsed Bob Huber for election as Mayor of Simi Valley because of his long – term record of supporting our Firefighters and other public safety personnel for the protection of our citizens.

Chandler Comment 2: “Though I don’t know for certain, I have to assume that Mr. Gallegly’s influence inspired the Ventura Firefighters Association to endorse Bob Huber.”

If you go to Bob Huber’s website – Huber for Mayor.com – you will see that twenty-three current or former public officials have endorsed Bob Huber to be the Mayor of Simi Valley.  These public officials include not just Congressman Elton Gallegly, but also the current State Senator and immediate past State Senator, the current State Assembly Member and immediate past State Assembly Member, three former Simi Valley Mayors, current School Trustee, five former School Trustees, the four College Trustees that serve with Bob Huber and the former immediate past College Trustee from our area.

Firefighters endorsed based on a long, solid record by Bob Huber of leadership and public safety and not on other endorsements.  To say otherwise is to insult the integrity of the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association.

Chandler Comment 3:  “In past elections, the Ventura County Firefighters Association has endorsed Steve Sojka for Simi Valley City Council.”

Attached is Steve Sojka’s Endorsement page from his 2008 City Council race.  There is not an endorsement by the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association on Sojka’s 2008 website.

Bob Huber received the endorsement of the Ventura County Firefighters Association because of his substantial credentials and his history of working with Firefighters and public safety for many years.

Now, to clarify my position, because it really is simple and by no means meant to put anyone on the offense.

If I was incorrect regarding the past endorsement of Steve Sojka of the VCPFA, then I’ll admit here that I was wrong. I conduct a lot of my searching in internet archives after candidates tear down their websites.  If I pulled inaccurate data, then I’ll admit my mistake and apologize to my readers.  On everything else, I stand firm.

[UPDATE: The VCPFA donated money to the Steve Sojka for City Council Campaign in 2008, 2004 and 2000.]

Often, a press release in its basic form consists of the basic principles of who, what, when, how and why.  The press release I received regarding the Firefighter endorsement didn’t include the how, which allowed me to draw some conclusions.  I do not believe my conclusions were entirely false.  Steve Sojka was NOT interviewed.  The Firefighters Association didn’t interview everyone, they interviewed one person.  I assumed no interviews were conducted, but it was actually just one, which seems even worse.  Even though the Steve Sojka Campaign has no comment, I know he was not interviewed and that I am correct — only one candidate was interviewed.  This looks more like a favor than a result of due diligence.  Let me explain more.

The IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) donated to Congressman Gallegly in 2006 and 2008.  This information is available online (God bless the Internet – see my hyperlinked years).  Do you see the IAFF insignia in the VCPFA logo? There’s an existing relationship between these two parties.  With a press release that spawns questions, I’m inspired browse around to find these links. I’m not trying to pick a fight, but it looks obvious to me that Congressman Gallegly asked the association to endorse Bob Huber and he got it.

Representatives of the Simi Valley Police Officers Association recently had a meeting with Congressman Gallegly.  Would anyone be surprised if a press release comes out soon with another big Bob Huber endorsement?  Honestly, probably not.

And again, I’m not saying that any of this is dirty or wrong.  I raise the question because BOTH candidates have talked to me about endorsements but neither have given voters enough to chew on to make a solid decision on one versus the other.  THIS is why my site exists.  I no longer want this to be about who you know, who your friends are, how long you’ve lived in Simi Valley or what your city-centric nickname is or should be.  And candidates, neither should you.  All of the effort to pull in these endorsements SHOULD be (but likely never will be) a waste of time.

And another thing… Sojka supporters, I’ll cover more news on Sojka when his campaign sends me more news.  Huber supporters, forward your news to Brian Dennert as well.