Newly elected principal officers General President-elect Edward Kelly and General Secretary-Treasurer-elect Frank Líma were sworn in March 10, along with IAFF Executive Board members running in contested races.
Held virtually due to the pandemic, the 55th IAFF Convention reconvened March 10 to officially announce the election results. Delegates cast their votes by secret mail-in ballot conducted by Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS). Per the IAFF Constitution & By-Laws, only registered, seated delegates are eligible to vote in the election. The certified results account for 7,148 ballots cast from 7,245 eligible ballots, yielding a participation rate of 98.66%.
“I want to congratulate all the newly elected officers,” said General President Harold Schaitberger, who is retiring after serving five terms as General President and devoting more than 45 years to the union (see full story on page 16). “It has been my honor to work every day for the last 20 years as General President on behalf of the members of this great union. I am confident that our newly elected officers will continue to build and strengthen this IAFF.”
Principal Officers Election
General Secretary-Treasurer Ed Kelly, Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell and Chicago, IL Local 2 President Jim Tracy declared their candidacies in the IAFF’s first contested election for principal officers since 1988. Tracy suspended his campaign because of unforeseen health reasons, making it a two-way race between Kelly and Mitchell for the top position. With 56% of the vote, Kelly was elected General President, the 10th person to hold the office in the union’s 103-year history.
Vying for General Secretary-Treasurer were 10th District Vice President Frank Líma, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Secretary-Treasurer Greg Markley and Uniformed Fire Officers Association of New York Local 854 President Jake Lemonda. With 68.5% of the vote, Líma will serve as the International’s 12th General Secretary-Treasurer.
The new leadership team officially takes office April 9.
U.S. Labor Secretary-Designee and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presided over the swearing in. The IAFF Executive Board voted to make Walsh an honorary member of the IAFF; General President Schaitberger deputized him to conduct the swearing in at Boston’s Ladder 17 where both the General President-elect and former General Secretary-Treasurer Martin Pierce (1980-1982) were assigned as fire fighters.
“I have known Eddie a long, long time,” said Walsh. “He knows how to bring people together; he fights for what he believes in and for his members and his friends. He believes in getting things done. That is the kind of leadership we need in this very historic moment in time. As we come out of this global pandemic, the steps we take now will define our future.”
Closing his remarks, he said, “On behalf of the people of the city of Boston, your union and the people of St. Ann’s Parrish, congratulations.”
General President-elect Kelly acknowledged all that Mayor Walsh has done for fire fighters, including purchasing much-needed new gear and assisting with cancer prevention efforts.
“I know that as a member of the presidential cabinet, the success you had helping fire fighters and the workers here in Boston will translate into a better, stronger future for our country,” said Kelly. “My first act as General President-elect is to deliver to you your IAFF membership card. What an honor it is to have you here to swear us all in.”
Kelly also recognized retiring General President Schaitberger and 9th District Vice President Ray Rahne and congratulated all the newly elected board members.
“When I get out of bed every morning, I will endeavor to serve with the same devotion to the oath I took today that our brothers and sisters whose names are on the wall at our Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial showed when they lived up to the oath they took by making the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “God Bless you. God Bless the IAFF. Be you, be strong, be firefighters.”
General Secretary-Treasurer-elect Líma, who delivered his acceptance speech via Zoom, acknowledged everyone who helped with his campaign and thanked outgoing and incoming IAFF Executive Board members, stating his readiness to work together to build a stronger, united IAFF.
Líma said his priority is to bring everyone together into one IAFF. “My commitment to you is that I will lead with integrity, transparency and honesty,” he said. “I promise you that I will always do the right thing. I am committed to being a General Secretary-Treasurer for all our members, whether you voted for me or not. Now is the time to come together.”
Prior to serving the last four years as General Secretary-Treasurer, Kelly answered the call to the fire service like so many of his family members, including his grandfather, father, brother, nephew and a cousin. He responded not only to emergencies in his hometown of Boston, but also the 1999 Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the 2001 terrorist attack in New York City. As a union leader, Kelly served as president of Boston Local 718 and the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts.
“Our members voice was heard in a historic level of participation at our 55th Convention, and I’m honored and excited to be the next General President of our great union.” Kelly says. “I congratulate Frank Líma and all our recently elected leaders on their victories, and I look forward to serving with our entire Executive Board to tackle the important work for our members and their families across both countries.”
Líma, a 29-year veteran fire fighter, has served as 10th District Vice President since 2016. During his tenure, he worked to ensure members affected by wildland fires and flooding received disaster relief assistance. He also lobbied to advance legislation benefiting his members, negotiated strong contracts and pushed to protect retirement security. Prior leadership positions include president of Los Angeles City, CA Local 112 and 8th District Vice President for the California Professional Firefighters (CPF).
“I am humbled by the strong amount of support that I received throughout this campaign,” says General Secretary-Treasurer-Elect Líma. “Now, more than ever, is the time that we must unite, fight and organize as a labor union. I am honored to begin work representing and serving our members in Canada and the United States as the next General Secretary-Treasurer of our IAFF.”
Newly Elected Executive Board Members Take Oath of Office
In contested races for Executive Board positions, four district vice presidents and one trustee who faced challengers were also sworn in.
In the 11th District, incumbent Vice President Sandy McGhee was challenged by Houston Local 341 President Marty Lancton. With 58.6% of the vote, McGhee was reelected 11th District Vice President.
“I am excited and energized, and more than anything, I am proud to be reelected as vice president of the Mighty 11th District,” said McGhee. “I am more than ready to continue the work to ensure that every local matters.”
Incumbent 16th District Vice President James Johnson faced Federal Fire Fighters of Hawaii President Reid Shimabukuro. With 73.9% of the vote, Johnson was reelected 16th District Vice President.
“I want to thank the 16th District delegates on my reelection and the great work they’re doing. We’ve seen some pretty egregious attacks from the past administration, and we fought our way through these,” said Johnson. “I also congratulate our newly elected officers. I am really looking forward to working with everyone.”
In the race for Region 2 Trustee, incumbent Mark Ouellette ran against Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois 1st District Vice President Daniel Fortuna. With 54.5% of the vote, Ouellette was reelected Region 2 Trustee.
“I promise, along with my fellow trustees, Tony Mejia and Alex Forrest, we will always be diligent to ensure our financial policies are carried out,” said Ouellette. “To the members on the frontlines, thank you for your support. I promise I will be beholden to only you, the dues payers of this union.”
Colorado Professional Fire Fighters (CPFF) President Michael Frainier and Nevada State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and past Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada President Rusty McAllister campaigned to fill the seat vacated by 9th District Vice President Ray Rahne. With 69.5% of the vote, Brother Frainier was elected 9th District Vice President.
“I want to thank the members of the 9th District who have put their faith in me,” said Frainier. “We have great leaders in the IAFF, past and present, who have built a strong foundation for us. I will continue that tradition, working together with a unified vision and shared values for our future.”
A 33-year veteran fire fighter, Frainier comes to the IAFF Executive Board with extensive leadership experience. Joining West Metro Fire Rescue in 1987, he became active in West Metro, CO Local 1309, serving as secretary-treasurer (1998-2005) and president (2005-2018). Meanwhile, he was elected Colorado Professional Fire Fighters (CPFF) secretary-treasurer in 2012, serving in that position until he was elected as CPFF president in 2017.
In the race for 10th District Vice President, United Goodyear, AZ Local 4005 President and 10th District Field Service Representative Stephen Gilman faced United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112 Treasurer Domingo Albarran. With 62.4% of the vote, Gilman was elected 10th District Vice President.
“I am absolutely honored and humbled that IAFF 10th District leaders have chosen me to continue the concept we have built as Team 10th,” says Gilman. “We will have a seasoned team ready to hit the ground running so our members can continue to receive top-notch assistance and resources.”
Since 2009, Gilman has served as Local 4005 president and as staff representative for the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona since 2012. Simultaneously, he has served as an IAFF District Field Service Representative. In these leadership roles, Gilman has responded to multiple wildfires and other disasters, helped numerous locals win collective bargaining rights and pushed for the passage of state legislation benefiting fire fighters. As a fire fighter, he worked his way up through the ranks to become captain.
Reelected by acclamation in January were: Region One Trustee (Canada) Alex Forrest, Region Three Trustee (Western U.S.) Anthony Mejia, 1st District Vice President James Slevin, 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright, 3rd District Vice President Jay Colbert, 4th District Vice President Andrew Pantelis, 5th District Vice President Thomas Thornberg, 6th District Vice President Mike Carter, 7th District Vice President Ricky Walsh, 8th District Vice President Mark Sanders, 12th District Vice President Walt Dix, 13th District Vice President Fred LeBlanc, 14th District Vice President Danny Todd and 15th District Vice President David Burry.