Berkeley Fire Fighters Association Local 1227, or BFFA Local 1227, announced Monday their endorsement of UC Berkeley alumnus Ben Gould’s campaign for the Berkeley City Council District 4 seat.
In a press release, BFFA Local 1227 said Gould’s approach to ensuring public safety will allow Berkeley firefighters to meet the community’s expectations.
Colin Arnold, a member of the union, said the association’s values concerning public health and safety strongly align with those of Gould’s campaign.
“We’ve had the opportunity to get to know Ben in the last three or so years,” Arnold said. “Some of his ideas for recruitment and better efficiency for firefighters are very creative.”
Gould earned master’s degrees in both public policy and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley. As an alumnus, Gould has been involved in various city boards and commissions. He has also worked as a legislative aide for Councilmember Lori Droste, according to the press release.
One of the main components of Gould’s campaign is public safety. Part of this platform places importance on the efficiency of first responders, Gould said. His campaign also aims to create affordable housing and fight homelessness in the city.
“I’m running because we need a new leadership for Berkeley,” Gould said. “I will bring the fight to City Council to better the efficiency of firefighters and other first responders.”
In order to decide whose campaign to endorse, the union puts together a committee that interviews each candidate. According to Arnold, the committee unanimously voted in Gould’s favor after candidate interviews.
In the 2017 special election, BFFA Local 1227 chose to endorse Councilmember Kate Harrison, the District 4 incumbent, but since then “their position has changed.”
According to Harrison, she may have lost the union’s endorsement because, in her interview, she said she could not guarantee that no changes would be made to existing firefighter pensions. Harrison added that while the firefighter pensions are an important issue — “I cannot lie to people.”
Harrison also said California is in a fiscal crisis regarding city employees in high-risk public safety jobs.
“We didn’t get into this pension problem in a day and we aren’t going to get out if in a day,” Harrison said. “I really want to continue to work with all of our unions and responsibly deal with this obligation.”
Gould, in addition, said in the press release that Berkeley firefighters need better recruitment, better training and efficient dispatching to keep the city safe. Without these improvements, Gould said the community is put at risk.
“Berkeley Firefighters are committed to making sure that when the community needs us, we are ready and available to provide the highest level of service,” BFFA Local 1227 said in a press release. “Ben’s approach is informed, thoughtful, and collaborative, and Ben will help ensure Berkeley Firefighters are able to meet the expectations of our community.”