Portland Firefighters Association Local 43
President Ken Burns told his members in a letter
[PDF] yesterday that he will not seek re-election to a second term next month.
Time has sped by at an alarming rate. I have three boys still at home; two of whom will be out of the house within two years. So many of you have been very supportive and encouraging which has made this a difficult decision, but after long discussions with my family, I have decided to spend as much time as possible with them while we are all still together.
The firefighters union is a potent political force whose endorsements and horsepower have played a key role in city elections. Burns steps down from a position that launched the political careers of City Commissioner Randy Leonard
and Tom Chamberlain
, the President of the AFL-CIO Oregon.
Burns, who will remain a battalion chief, maintained a lower profile than some of his predecessors. But he made a statement in 2008 City Council races, when the union declined to back Leonard or any other candidates because of unhappiness over firefighters' contract. No word yet on potential successors.