Election Day is just around the corner, but the Irvine Police Association has yet to endorse any candidates for the City Council election.

That doesn’t mean that an endorsement is out of the question. But it does mean that the union is being more careful about how it engages in politics.

And if Election Day passes by without a police union endorsement, it would mean an unprecedented new stance — one that speaks volumes about the careful philosophy of the union’s new leadership.

I spoke yesterday with the union’s new president, Gary Wyatt.

Wyatt said the union is breaking away from the aggressive tactics of 2009, signaled by public protests of salary freezes by the city that went so far as picketing outside a restaurant where Councilwoman Beth Krom was having a fundraising dinner.

The strategy did little in the way of a union victory — the council ended up pushing through a memorandum of understanding that froze salary raises for a year.

“The aggressive stance of the previous board was not supported by many members, and the protest was done without a vote of the membership,” Wyatt said.

This year, the City Council again froze salary raises, this time for three years, and through negotiations with the union.

“We didn’t feel it was a perfect contract, but we felt it was a sufficient contract to take to the members. The contract passed by 110 to 26,” Wyatt said. He added, “In my opinion we’re rebuilding some bridges.”

If the union does choose to endorse a candidate, it’s going to do so carefully. In the past, the union endorsed both Republican and Democratic candidates, a strategy that neither side liked.

“I wouldn’t say [it created] enemies, but it didn’t play into our favor — in hindsight,” Wyatt said.


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