COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Fraternal Order of Police announces their endorsement for challenger Colin Martin for mayor of Columbus less than a month before Election Day.
But how did they come to this decision? News Leader 9's Tyrone McCoy has more details with reaction from all sides involved.
This is the first mayoral endorsement by our local FOP in eight years. President of FOP lodge nine Randy Robertson says it started as a motion by one of the members for an endorsement poll for mayor and ended with what he calls overwhelming support for Colin Martin.
I talked in depth with him about the process leading up to the announcement.
Robertson explains "that requires for a committee to be formed and that committee to reach out to all 600 plus of our and find out if they're wanting to endorse someone. And if so, who."
According to Robertson a committee of 15 people, chaired by the person who motioned for the poll, called all 670 members in the lodge to get their vote. He says, "several hundred members voted and Mr. Martin received an overwhelming percentage of those votes."
"Our members are frustrated about the every day-to-day operation of law enforcement," he adds. "They're concerned about the -- what they feel is -- the inattention given to crime in Columbus and Muscogee County and at the same time, our members feel like there is a dysfunction in the community."
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson calls these accusations a disappointing result of misinformation, saying "for the FOP membership, they've really been denied information -- accurate information. This is one of the first times that I ever know of that the FOP has not had a forum, a debate or an interview of candidates. So I was actually denied access to the FOP to have them hear the answer to any concerns that they may have."
While some members voted not to endorse anyone, others did vote to endorse current Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. When asked for a record of those votes, Robertson replied "the only record that is available has members names on it. We are a 501c8 organization and we do not release members names."
The last time the FOP endorsed a mayoral candidate was in 2006 when former Columbus mayor Jim Wetherington was ran for office and won. It's an honor Colin Martin says he's grateful to receive.
"This simply validates what I knew already, that I've earned the trust of our law enforcement and they want to change the Public Safety Director and they'd like for me to fill that role," Martin explains. "And I'm very humbled and honored by their choice."
We are still working to get an exact number of Colin endorsement votes versus Mayor Tomlinson votes. We are not requesting names. Early voting has already begun for the state of Georgia. The last day to vote in this year's primary election is May the 20.