Lincoln Mayor Gaylor Baird endorsed by fire union

By: - March 16, 2023 3:55 pm

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird accepts the endorsement of the Lincoln Fire Fighters Association on Thursday, March 16. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

LINCOLN — One of the most influential unions in Lincoln city elections threw its weight Thursday behind Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.

The Lincoln Fire Fighters Association endorsed Gaylor Baird. Leaders said she did what she said she would by investing in new and updated fire stations and equipment.

State Sen. Suzanne Geist was endorsed for Lincoln mayor by the Lincoln Police Union. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Union President Adam Schrunk said she has prioritized public safety. He said Gaylor Baird pledged to do the same moving forward, including continued work on fire stations and pension planning.

He credited the mayor for her willingness to listen and budget accordingly, calling it “evidence of her commitment to the safety of our firefighters and of our city.”

“Ensuring a safe community isn’t easy, and it’s expensive,” Schrunk said. 

Mayor ‘grateful’

Gaylor Baird said she was “proud and grateful” to have the union’s backing. She said she would continue to support first responders with the equipment, resources and staffing.

“I listened to what they said,” she said of the union. “Working conditions, how to get them additional safety … I’m glad (for) the progress we’ve made. There’s still more to do.”

Gaylor Baird, Nebraska’s highest-profile elected Democrat, is expected to advance in Lincoln’s April 4 nonpartisan city primary. The top two candidates will compete in the May 2 general election.

Stan Parker, executive director of a Christian radio broadcast network, The Bridge, announced a run for Lincoln mayor. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Republican State Sen. Suzanne Geist is Gaylor Baird’s best-funded opponent. Christian broadcaster Stan Parker is also courting Lincoln’s conservatives in the primary. 

Schrunk said the fire union typically interviews any mayoral candidate who reaches out. He said they met with Gaylor Baird and Geist. He said Parker did not reach out.

City unions at odds

The local fire union typically matters in city elections because firefighters offer a steady stream of volunteers to go door-to-door for a favored candidate. 

The unions representing firefighters and police officers are typically the most important in any city election. This year, Lincoln’s fire and police unions stand on opposite sides of the race. 

The police union in January endorsed Geist. And outside groups supporting Geist have been running TV ads attacking Gaylor Baird’s record on public safety.

“I think that what I see coming from the other side is a lot about trying to scare people, because if you can’t win on the issues, you drum up fear,” Gaylor Baird said.

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also worked as an assignment editor and editorial writer. He was an investigative reporter at KMTV.