Houston firefighters’ union endorses Boykins for mayor

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on Thursday voted unanimously to endorse Councilman Dwight Boykins in the race for Houston mayor, according to a news release from the union.

Though Mayor Sylvester Turner secured the fire union’s endorsement during the 2015 cycle, he since has become embroiled in a bitter feud with the union over a long-running pay dispute, producing a political headache for the mayor as he seeks a second four-year term.

Meanwhile, Boykins has emerged as Turner’s primary antagonist on city council in the debate over firefighter pay and Proposition B. The voter-approved charter amendment granted firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and experience, but a judge last month ruled the measure unconstitutional.

Though Boykins has not officially announced his candidacy for mayor, he filed a report Tuesday with the city secretary designating a mayoral campaign treasurer. In a statement Thursday, he publicly acknowledged for the first time that he is running for mayor.

“One of my top priorities as mayor will be to ensure that public safety is properly supported and funded in Houston,” Boykins said. “…One thing is clear: fighting with our first responders all the time is never the answer.”

Marty Lancton, president of the fire union, said in a statement that Boykins “does more than just talk about supporting public safety and firefighters.”

“His city council and community leadership record reflect that,” Lancton said. “It’s not uncommon for Dwight to show up at a multi-alarm fire to check on firefighters and the people we serve or for him to ride along on an ambulance or fire truck.”

Lawyer Tony Buzbee and businessman Bill King also are running for mayor along with at least five lesser-known candidates. The two have criticized Turner’s handling of Prop B, and frequently claim solidarity with firefighters. Buzbee, in particular, has posted numerous photos on social media of his visits and food deliveries to fire stations across the city.

The fire union received criticism during the 2015 race after it endorsed Turner in March that year, an unusually early point in the campaign that left other candidates questioning whether they had a fair chance to compete for the union’s support.

The Houston Police Officers’ Union also endorsed Turner around the same time. The police officers sided with Turner in opposing Proposition B.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

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