BANGOR, Maine — A coalition of Maine first responders unions called on voters to re-elect U.S. Sen. Susan Collins during a Tuesday morning news conference at Hose 5 Museum in Bangor.
“Sen. Collins has been and continues to be our friend,” said John York, president of the Professional Bangor Firefighters union, International Association of Firefighters Local 772, which hosted the event.
Collins, a Republican, is running against Democrat Shenna Bellows.
Representatives from four firefighter and police unions lauded Collins for her repeated support of federal grants and programs to help fire departments and police agencies across the state ensure their responders are trained, adequate in number and equipped to do their jobs reliably and safely.
“Our endorsement is not a stamp of approval for a political party or a platform, it is about the recognition of individuals, regardless of their party affiliation, who demonstrate an understanding and drive to support the ever increasing and evolving nature of protecting the public,” said Paul Gaspar, executive director of the Maine Association of Police.
York and others credited the senator for her work to secure Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants, to help fire departments in Maine keep appropriate staffing levels in spite of dwindling municipal budgets. She also has been behind the scenes, pushing for funding of grants that provide bulletproof vests to officers working for departments that otherwise couldn’t afford them.
Craig Poulin, executive director Maine State Troopers Association, announced his organization’s support as well, citing her work to secure federal support for efforts to cull illegal drugs and domestic violence.
“We feel very strongly that a voice of moderate reason is what we need down there [in Washington, D.C.],” Poulin said.
Michael Melhorn, trustee for the firefighters union at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, an affiliate of the International Association of Firefighters, also announced his union’s endorsement of Collins.
Collins, who attended the event, said that she was honored to receive the support.
“When disaster strikes, whether it is a terrorist attack, a severe ice storm, a heinous crime, a blazing fire or a medical emergency, each of us calls 911,” Collins said. “None of us calls 202, the Washington, D.C., area code. Yet, we know that Washington has an obligation to help those who are on the front lines for us each and every day.”
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.