DEVELOPING... FOP PAC Members Wanted Pay Raise, According to Mayor Wolfe

Updated 6 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Mayor Kim Wolfe
Mayor Kim Wolfe
(file photo)

Believing he is in “good company,” Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe told HNN that the same FOP PAC that endorsed his opponent previously   kicked Police Chief Skip Holbrook out of the lodge. Wolfe stressed that the reasons for their non-endorsement are two --- not giving police a pay raise and not agreeing to a new contract in a timely manner.

During a late Friday October 5 interview, Wolfe related behind the scenes conversations regarding the FOP Political Action Committee's endorsement decision process.

Having been told, in Wolfe's words, “We can’t endorse you because you did not give us a pay raise and a contract when we wanted it, ”  the Mayor responded, “Guys. how could I give you a contract [then] when we did not know if the city was going into bankruptcy and was laying 40 people off?" The Mayor referred to the 2010 fiscal crisis where City Hall closed on Fridays,  full time workers (except police and fire) took unpaid furloughs and  20% pay cuts.

Wolfe described himself as “comfortable” accepting the responsibility for the lack of  police pay raises and the delayed contract.  “The other way around, if I had done all that [to receive] an endorsement, that’s not the right thing to do. I’ll do the right thing and not get the endorsement.”

Traditionally, the FOP has endorsed all “brothers” or chosen not to make an endorsement.

He does not believe that the decision will impact his re-election chances. “I’m going to tell the public the truth. I don’t think that hurts me,” Wolfe said. Explaining that "70% of the police department did not vote," he agreed the margin was [about] 32-27. "There were several retirees there, I assume I got most of their votes."

The retiree reference swings back four years, when Huntington faced what many of the nation’s cities now face --- maintaining services and making escalating contributions to pension funds.

“Don’t [they]  understand. The city was going into receivership. [Now, police and fire]  pensions are safe,” Wolfe said. “I’ve had several active members call me back [saying] Mayor, I’m embarrassed at what happened. We know you are doing the right thing.”

Ironically, the Huntington Police Department has been recognized as law enforcement agency of the year. Wolfe said the department may receive the same honor in 2012. "Does it make sense to throw the chief out [of the lodge]... I'm in pretty good company," Wolfe said. (The Mayor said that the lodge controversy regarding the chief occurred "in the past" and concerned members of the Political Action Committee. Chief Skip Holbrook called it an "administrative matter" and declined further comment on the specificity.) 

The endorsement vote took place Oct. 2 when the FOP PAC presented its endorsement recommendations to those members in attendance.

Dale Anderson II, a conservative Republican who received 42% of the primary vote for Mayor, has since chosen to “support” Wolfe’s bid for re-election.

“I don’t think it’s  fair for the FOP to say give us  a pay raise or we won’t give our endorsement,” Anderson told HNN. “ I commend Mayor Wolfe for looking out for the taxpayers and not wanting to jeopardize  tax payers money.”

He continued that "the average Huntington taxpayer is making $22-25,000 a year. How much above the average are city employees making," Anderson asked? Stating that the taxpaying public want to know that their money is being "protected," Anderson called the FOP PAC conduct as "greedy" for its insistence that the people foot the bill.

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