Public safety labor groups have made a loud entrance into the 68th State Assembly race supporting Democrat Phu Nguyen over Republican Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, himself a retired sheriff’s deputy.

Standing in Mansoor’s political backyard at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa, Nguyen said he was humbled by the endorsements from the Costa Mesa and countywide police and fire unions. He called the endorsements an important recognition by law enforcement leaders that he’s the right person to defend Orange County’s coffers in Sacramento and bring more tax dollars home.

“The key responsibility of government is to keep our residents safe,” Nguyen said.

Reached for comment, Mansoor dismissed the endorsements, saying they represented nothing more than a confirmation that Nguyen won’t address pension reform.

“It wasn’t law enforcement supporting him; it was public employee unions,” Mansoor said. “There’s a difference. … He’s not going to address much-needed pension reform. That’s why they support him.”

The union leaders say Mansoor, like so many other Republicans, is trying to have it both ways. He can’t, they say, stand next to the heroes in the midst of disasters and then not be there for them in terms of pay and benefits.

“Public safety doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Tony Bedolla, political director for the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association. “You can’t say you support public safety without supporting public safety employees.”

And Mansoor is a “hypocrite to the highest degree” for accepting the pension benefits — as a retired sheriff’s deputy — won in hard-fought negotiations and then criticizing them, said Wayne Quint, President of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

“We see right through this guy,” Quint said.

With four public safety labor groups this revved up, the real impact of these endorsements means that those of you living in the 68th Assembly District should expect to see a lot of mail arriving very soon.

— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.

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