KYSYLYCZYN CAMPAIGN CLAIMS DRAW CRITICISM - MAYOR SAYS 'FIREFIGHTER ENDORSED' IS CORRECT WORDING
Nancy Ngo, Pioneer Press
August 29, 2003

Roseville Mayor John Kysylyczyn's City Council campaign literature is stirring opposition from the fire chief and political opponents who say the claims he is making are misleading.

In his bid for City Council, Kysylyczyn's campaign flier and signs read that he is "firefighter endorsed."

In a statement issued in response to the campaign literature, Fire Chief Richard Gasaway wrote, "Neither the fire department nor its auxiliary has endorsed any candidate for any position."

Kysylyczyn said he is not claiming the department endorses him. He said he is referring to individuals from the department, as well as retired firefighters, who have endorsed him.

"That's why it says firefighter endorsed versus fire department endorsed," Kysylyczyn said.

Still, political opponents and analysts say the statement is misleading.

Amy Ihlan, one of five City Council candidates, said the claim is confusing. She said she has heard residents raise questions about how to interpret the statement.

"That shows to me at least that people don't know what that means. And if it's confusing, then people are misled by it," she said. "When you see 'firefighter endorsed,' it implies that some organization of firefighters formally endorsed him."

An endorsement from the department is impossible, since Roseville has a volunteer fire department and does not have a union.

Tom Scott, political science professor and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, said stating someone is endorsed by individual firefighters is "kind of like saying I was endorsed by a bunch of people in the community."

Scott said if there is a fuss about the issue, it would have to be settled in court to determine whether the statement implies an endorsement by a particular group or individuals.

"I think the candidates know better that departments don't endorse people," Kysylyczyn said. "People endorse people. That's just common sense."

Kysylyczyn said he is supported by 37 retired and 20 active firefighters. He was willing to release names of the retired firefighters. However, he declined to give names of active firefighters, saying they might face a backlash for publicly supporting him.

Gasaway said Thursday that he would not comment other than to state the department is not endorsing Kysylyczyn.

Retired firefighter Charlie Quick, who endorses Kysylyczyn, said since the city does not have a firefighters union and the fire department's auxiliary group is not allowed to endorse a candidate, there are few avenues to show that firefighters support a candidate.

"Since there's no other way to get a firefighter endorsement, you just have to deal with a number of individuals," he said.

Quick said he is endorsing the current mayor for the City Council seat because of talk that Roseville may bring on full-time firefighters, which he sees as too costly.

"He's watching the purse strings for Roseville," he said.

Some of the retired firefighters launched a Web site Thursday to show their support for Kysylyczyn.

For more information, go to www.rosevillefirefighters.com.

Nancy Ngo can be reached at nngo@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-2149.

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