Florida Professional Firefighters announced its support of GOP hopeful Chris Latvala for House District 67, in an endorsement that holds special significance for the first-time candidate.
Latvala, the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. Ed Hooper.
In a letter released last week, FPF CEO Jim Tolley commended Latvala for his willingness and ability to work for the citizens of Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park.
“We believe that you will honorably serve the citizens of Florida and the interests of the men and women employed in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work.”
Backing of the FPF has a particular meaning to Latvala, who said there were two firefighters having a profound impact on his life. The first was a friend and classmate named Kliff Kramer, who attended Terry Parker High School with Latvala in the class of 2000.
“He was one of the funniest people I have ever known and had a heart of gold,” he said. “Five years after we graduated, he passed away while training to be a firefighter. His name is listed on the Firefighter Memorial in the Florida Capitol.”
The other was former firefighter Ed Hooper, who was also a Clearwater City Commissioner as well as a legislator who has not lost an election in over a decade. Latvala spent three years as Hooper’s legislative aide, referring to him as a man who dedicated nearly 30 years of his life helping others.
“Firefighters should be treated like heroes, anything short of that is simply unacceptable,” Latvala added. “I have vowed that I will not let Rep. Hooper, Kliff, and our other firefighters down if I am honored by serving them in the Florida House.”
“Every endorsement I receive is special, but receiving the endorsement of the Florida Professional Firefighters is an amazing honor to me. I thank them for putting their trust in me.”
In addition to his strong support of firefighters and first responders, Latvala’s civic service includes participation in the 2014 Leadership Pinellas class, as well as membership on the Pinellas MPO Citizen Advisory Committee, as a board member of the PACE Center for Girls the Ruth Eckerd Hall Government Advocacy Committee and the Community Relations Committee for New Life Solutions.
By endorsing Latvala, the FPF joins a groundswell of grassroots support including Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Reps. Hooper and Larry Ahern, the Fraternal Order of Police, Clearwater City Council members Hoyt Hamilton, Paul Gibson and Vice-mayor Doreen Hock-Dipolito, former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean and Largo City Commissioner Curtis Holmes.