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If you’ve driven through Jeffersonville lately, you may have asked this question: “Wait, Jeffersonville fire truck say WHA?!?!”
That’s a direct quote, and you know it.
The reason you, and many online, may have had this reaction is because you’ve passed this fire truck on Veterans Parkway, next to a ginormous sign endorsing a candidate for city council. The follow-up question, being, of course: “Are tax dollars being spent to set up a public fire truck to play favorites in the elections this year?”
That would be messed up if that’s what was actually happening. But, that’s not what’s actually happening.
Allow Jeffersonville Fire Department PIO Justin Ames to explain.
“The question being asked is: ‘we see this fire truck on the side of the road. Why is Jeffersonville putting their fire truck out here politically?’ We’re not,” Ames explained. “The Jeffersonville Fire Department’s apparatuses are only for the use of the fire department. The union has a truck on the side of the road and is endorsing a candidate. It’s not a city asset. It is not a department resource. It’s a decommissioned fire truck that literally only drives.”
So, that’s the distinction. The Jeffersonville Fire Department is completely separate from the Jeffersonville Firefighters Union. It’s the union that gets in on the political process, and it’s their truck that’s chillin’ out on Veterans Parkway. The union has also been placing those yellow signs around town that say “Jeffersonville Fire PAC” (which stands for political action committee).
“With those signs, it’s a simple way of the fire union explaining that [they] support this candidate, but it has nothing to do with the inner workings and the day-to-day business of the fire department,” Ames said. “The fire department is not endorsing the candidate; the fire union, as a union body, is endorsing the candidate. It’s two separate things.”
Alright, so now you may be wondering: how does the union decide which candidates to back? Well, we heard from Joe Hurt, president of the Jeffersonville Firefighters Union. He told us that they are not a partisan body, and make their decisions based on specific pledges from candidates that they believe would help them in their day to day operations as civil servants.
If you're planning on voting in the May 7 primary election, you can find out more information here.
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