HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Huntington mayoral campaign just took an interesting turn, as Democratic candidate Steve Williams received the endorsement of The Fraternal Order of Police Gold Star Lodge 65 Political Action Committee.
"I am thrilled to have the Fraternal Order of Police join our campaign," Williams told WSAZ.com.
In a news release issued Friday, the FOP stated, "Our decision was based on Councilman Williams’ expertise in the financial field, legislative experience and understanding of economic development."
Republican incumbent Mayor Kim Wolfe described the endorsement as coming from a small group of political action committee members who also voted to throw Police Chief Skip Holbrook out of the FOP lodge.
"The reason for their for non-endorsement was I didn't give them a pay raise," Wolfe said. "I could not in a depressed economy. Also, administration and public work employees took a 20 per cent pay reduction the last two years."
Alan Rohrig, spokesman for Gold Star Lodge 65, said Holbrook was, and still is, a member of the lodge.
Four years ago, the FOP strongly endorsed Wolfe is his election bid against David Felinton. FOP members told WSAZ.com this time around there was conflict in the lodge about which candidate to support.
Wolfe is a career law enforcement officer in Cabell County. Williams is currently a Huntington City Council member.
"My candidacy now has endorsements from the police, firefighters, AFSCME workers, the AFL-CIO and Huntington Chamber of Commerce," Williams said. "It is time we demand that Huntington become an exceptional city and not be satisfied with the status quo."
Wolfe said 70 percent of police officers were not represented in the endorsement vote. How that may have affected the decision is unknown.
"I told them I could not in good conscience burden the taxpayers on limited income at this time," Wolfe said.
In two other significant Cabell County races, the FOP endorsed Democratic incumbent Chris Chiles for the office of prosecuting attorney and Republican Irv Johnson for assessor.