On the floor of the Florida Senate, Pinellas Republican Jack Latvala likes to say that no one in the Legislature has worked as hard as he has to take care of the state’s first responders, particularly local police and firefighters.
For example, during this past session, Latvala saw to it that firefighters qualify for “in the line of duty” pension benefits if they contract certain types of cancer.
Because Latvala has had their backs so often, firefighters in Miami and Orlando are now returning the favor, providing Latvala’s gubernatorial campaign with its first endorsements.
Technically, its the Miami Association of Firefighters Local 587 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Orlando Professional Firefighters Local 1365 which are backing Latvala.
Their endorsements come less than 24 hours after Latvala formally kicked off his campaign with stops in Hialeah, Clearwater and Panama City.
“I stood with more than 100 first responders when I kicked off my campaign outside Fire Station #7 in Hialeah yesterday to show my continued support for the men and women who work so tirelessly to protect all Floridians,” Latvala said.
Freddy Delgado, the president of the Miami firefighters union said that Latvala’s capacity for making tough decisions is why his organization is supporting Latvala.
“The firefighters of this state have forged a very strong bond with you and you have proven capable of making the difficult decisions to ensure that your firefighters are afforded equitable safety condition and benefit levels,” said Delgado. :Some of those decisions have included protection of our current defined benefit retirement and fighting for firefighter cancer presumption in the State of Florida.”
In a separate statement, Orlando firefighter union leader Ron Glass commended Latvala for his “ability (to) reach consensus with members of both parties” and that Latvala was “instrumental in providing firefighters from across the state of Florida with stable careers, better working conditions and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity.”
Latvala, 65, has served two stints in the Senate, the first from 1994 to 2002, when he left because of term limits. He returned to the Senate in 2010 and will again be term-limited next year. He is the current Senate budget chairman and has previously led the chamber’s efforts to tighten ethics in state government and require political candidates to be more transparent about fundraising and campaign spending.