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Firefighters, first responders continue lining up behind Jack Latvala

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Jack Latvala is expanding his appeal as a “hero” with first responders across Florida.

On Wednesday, the Clearwater Republican announced firefighters in St. Petersburg, Coral Gables and Indian River County have added their support to his bid to become Florida governor.

“You have become a hero among firefighters,” said Indian River County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 2201 President John O’Conner in an announcement of the endorsement.

“You’ve had our back every step of the way. Now we are honored to have yours,” O’Conner added, citing Latvala’s work to protect firefighter pensions, death and disability benefits, and the senator’s recent legislation on firefighter cancer disability presumption.

“Your steadfast support on public safety issues and specifically the fire service as a whole has meant so much not only to our Local, but also all of our brothers and sisters Statewide,” added Coral Gables Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 1210 President Michael Chickillo.

Richard E. Pauley Jr., President of the St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters IAFF Local 747, voiced his backing of Latvala in a separate letter: “We believe you will honorably serve the citizens of the State of Florida and the interests of the men and women in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work.”

Previously, firefighters in Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach also gave thumbs-up to Latvala’s gubernatorial bid.

Latvala, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was elected in 2010; he also served in the Senate from 1994-2002.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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