Santa Clara County supervisor candidate Pierluigi Oliverio rolled through the July 4 “Rose, White and Blue” parade in a big red fire engine that sported his campaign banner and blasted tunes like “Do you know the Way to San Jose” as he smiled widely and waved to kids.
And that didn’t sit well with San Jose’s firefighter union, with whom he battled as a city councilman over measures to trim pension costs. The “Friends of San Jose Firefighters” posted a “rant” on Facebook calling out Oliverio for what they argued was an effort to deceive voters.
“LET US BE CLEAR, firefighters and police all across this valley will never support this snake in the grass,” the post read. “For him to utilize this tactic to appear to have our support as firefighters is dirty politics. This is the kind of man he is… period.”
The post concluded that Oliverio won’t support public safety “no matter what lies he may utter.”
Oliverio, who rented the private truck from friends who own Joseph J. Albanese, a Santa Clara construction company, denied trying to mislead the public. Oliverio said he chose a fire engine to show support for fire officials and because it’s an attention-grabber.
“I’m a little surprised at the union’s reaction since this type of whining and bullying is done right before the election,” Oliverio said. “There’s more to supporting firefighters than giving a blank check to pensions.”
San Jose prohibits using city property for political campaigns and the privately-owned truck was from Southern California. The truck, which cost Oliverio’s campaign $150 to rent per hour, is often used in other parades, such as a Christmas parade in Los Gatos.
But Sean Kaldor, president of the San Jose Firefighters Local 230, isn’t buying it. “It’s pretty disappointing that a candidate would use his own money to rent a fire engine to imply firefighters are supporting him,” Kaldor said.