Six local law enforcement and firefighters’ unions announced this morning they were endorsing Nathan Vasquez, the Portland prosecutor challenging incumbent Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt from his right.
“As a coalition of first responders, we are uniquely positioned to see the tragedies of a beleaguered public safety system play out every day,” says a statement from representatives of the six unions. “Our public safety system clearly needs new energy and direction.”
The unions represent police and firefighters in Portland and Gresham, as well as Port of Portland police and deputies at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
The statement says Vasquez is “uniquely qualified” due to his lengthy experience as prosecutor in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, saying he has “unmatched experience in everything from high-profile felony cases to low level prosecutions, along with working on complex public policy issues surrounding drug use and property and person crimes.”
Vasquez said in a statement he was “deeply humbled” by the endorsements. “These brave men and women are on the front lines of Multnomah County’s drug, addiction, and public safety crisis and I am proud that they have put their faith in me to help build a safer community.”
Vasquez was previously less enthused to receive the endorsement of one of the unions, the powerful Portland Police Association, calling it a “hot potato” due to the community’s “skeptical view” of the union representing Portland cops.
The release of the joint statement by the six unions has the effect of dulling the controversy that always surrounds an endorsement by the PPA. It also speaks to the contempt many law enforcement officers have felt toward Schmidt from the minute he was elected on a pledge to reform the Portland criminal justice system.
In a statement in response to the announcement, Schmidt pointed to his office’s recent efforts to address car theft and shoplifting in partnership with local law enforcement: “I appreciate the job our police officers do for this community and look forward to continued collaboration with them to address our most pressing public safety issues.”