FOP Lodge 97 endorses candidates
To the editor:
The Upper Ohio Valley Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 97 has announced its endorsement for the Nov. 2 election for the Wintersville mayor and council races. By unanimous vote, the following candidates have the organization’s support: Mike Petrella for mayor and Randy Spence and Carman DeStefano for council.
As part of the endorsement process, letters were mailed to all candidates inviting them to sit before the membership and interview for the possibility of an endorsement. Candidates seeking an endorsement appeared before lodge membership on Oct. 14, and interviewed for possible endorsement. Following the interviews, a sealed ballot election was held, and the members voted to unanimously endorse all three candidates for the November election cycle.
These endorsed candidates have shown their support for local public safety efforts and recognize the importance a safe community has on community growth and business development, which they stated is desperately needed in the village of Wintersville. During their interviews, the candidates expressed concern with the police department in the village being the lowest paid department in Jefferson, Harrison and Tuscarawas counties and the ramification that has had on officer retention and recruitment.
FOP Lodge No. 97 officers had the following to say about these candidates: “Since 2016, the Village of Wintersville has lost nearly 20 police officers. To put that in perspective, the police department consists of nine full-time police officers who provide the village with 24/7 police protection. With a starting salary of $13.50 it is pretty evident why turnover has been so high. Currently, the police department has an open full-time position, and there has only been one applicant. It’s refreshing to have candidates who are aware of the dire situation the police department is in and are committed to finding a solution.”
The Upper Ohio Valley Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 97 is composed of law enforcement officers from Wintersville and surrounding agencies in Jefferson, Harrison and Carroll counties. The lodge is not a union or collective bargaining unit, but is a fraternal organization that provides support to law enforcement officers and community charity programs.