The Fullerton Firefighters Association (FFA) is using it’s Pinktober “Let’s Extinguish Cancer” campaign to promote one of their chosen candidates for Fullerton City Council. Last Thursday night Fullerton’s firefighters parked their “Pink Tribute Fire Engine,” a custom pink wrapped firetruck to honor victims of cancer, across Wilshire Ave., near the market’s west entrance. The vehicle’s normally red surfaces were entirely covered with a bright pink ribbon graphic to honor victims of cancer. Cancer survivors are invited to sign their names on the truck.
Leaning against the pink truck Thursday night were pink signs promoting Rick Alvarez for Fullerton City Council. The signs read “Fullerton Firefighters Support Rick Alvarez” and featured a graphic of a firefighter helmet in white against a pink background. Mr. Alvarez has received $ 5,000.00 in direct contributions by the FFA, the union representing Fullerton’s firefighters. He is one of two candidates, along with incumbent Doug Chaffee, to be endorsed by the union (no pink Doug Chaffee signs have yet to appear). The truck is scheduled to be at the Fullerton Market on Thursday nights throughout the month of October.
According to their website ‘“The Fullerton Firefighter’s Association would like to announce the 3rd annual Pinktober Event for the month of October. Since its inception, the Fullerton Firefighter’s have raised over $34,000 to aid in Cancer research. Our motto this year is “Let’s Extinguish Cancer with Fullerton Fire”.’
The firefighters are sponsoring a local teacher who has Stage 4 Breast Cancer. If you are reading this column chances are that you know at least one person, probably more, who have been diagnosed with cancer. The Rag understands why local firefighters might want to help raise funds to fight this terrible disease, but conflating the suffering of the cancer stricken with support for a City Council candidate is beyond distasteful.
The Rag isn’t anti-union, but voters should remember that the union representing Fullerton’s firefighters is going to back the candidates they think will give them the best deal when their contract with the city is up for renewal. Council members who will eventually approve a contract with a union can be elected (ok, probably not Rick Alvarez) with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and independent expenditures from that same union. That’s what it means when a sign says “Firefighters support..” or ”Your police support…” a candidate (or two).
The FFA can and will choose candidates to endorse in the upcoming election, and voters can choose how much they value that endorsement when casting their ballots in the City Council race, but it is beyond the pale to mix a political investment in a candidate with a campaign to honor and support cancer victims. “Pinktober” lasts through the entire month of October–the home stretch of election season. It is hard to believe that signs supporting Rick Alvarez are just coincidentally pink. The next time Fullerton’s firefighters roll out their Pink Tribute Fire Engine they should leave their signs at home, and stop posting them around town, or risk being perceived as cynically exploiting the suffering of cancer victims for their own political purposes.