4th Supervisor District: Former Firefighters Union Boss Joe Kerr Officially Enters Race

Joe Kerr, the combative long-time head of the powerful union representing Orange County Fire Authority firefighters, has officially declared himself a candidate for the 4th Supervisor District seat in 2018. Incumbent Supervisor Shawn Nelson is being forced out due to term limits.

OC Daily reported on March 17 that Kerr was a likely candidate. Today, his campaign issued this press release:

Former Fire CAPTAIN Joe Kerr announces campaign for orange County Supervisor

Brea, CA – Today former Orange County Fire Captain Joe Kerr announced his campaign for Orange County’s 4th Supervisorial District. The seat, which is being vacated by term-limited Supervisor Shawn Nelson, includes all or portions of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, and Placentia.

In announcing his campaign, Kerr stated:

As a firefighter and fire captain for over 30 years, I learned how to evaluate complex situations, keep those around me composed, and implement a plan of action to protect people in danger. I think Orange County’s government needs this type of experience right now, and I am excited to announce my campaign.

On the Board of Supervisors, I will run toward the problems we face – including the growing homelessness crisis and the lack of transparency in county government. I will work hard every day to serve as the responsive and effective leader that our residents deserve.

Joe Kerr is a second-generation professional firefighter who served as a Fire Captain with the Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Fire Department for over 25 years. He was the first President of the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association, the former Vice President of the California Professional Firefighters, and a former Vice President of the Orange County Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO).

Joe was awarded Fireman of the Year by the Cypress Fire Department in 1979, Overachiever of the Year by the Orange County Firemen’s Association in 1984, and Fire Captain of the Year by the Orange County Fire Department in 1986. In 1981, he was given a Certificate of Merit from the Orange County Board of Supervisors for his role while responding to the Air California jetliner crash at John Wayne Airport. Joe was also presented with the Courage Under Fire Award in 1999 for rescuing and reviving a non-breathing occupant who was trapped in a residential structure fire. In 2012 after retiring, Joe received numerous awards and recognitions for helping save the life of a baby who was drowning and had stopped breathing in a swimming pool.

Joe’s history of community service includes having served as an advisor to the Board of the Orange County Foundation for Oncology, Children and Families (OCF-OCF).

Joe grew up in La Habra and Cypress. He and his wife, China, are the proud parents of a 13-year-old son.

The partisan balance in the 4th Supervisor District has tilted significantly toward the Democrats due to their aggressive voter registration efforts in 2016. As 2016 began, the district was 37% Democrat and 35.4% Republican. Now, the 4th District is 40.2% Democrat, 32.4% Republican and 23.4% No Party Preference.

Whether Kerr – assuming he makes the November run-off – would be able to convert that Democratic advantage into a general election victory is another question. Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez was unable to defeat Supervisor Andrew Do in the even more heavily Democratic 1st Supervisor District  – despite record Democratic voter turnout in a presidential election year. Turn-out will be lower and the electorate almost certainly more conservative in 2018. That said, Republicans will need to get their voter registration act together in the 4th District in order to blunt the Democrats partisan advantage.

Who Is Running Kerr’s Campaign?
The press release contact is Derek Humphrey, one of the principals of Overland Strategies, a progressive Democrat campaign and communications firms based in San Dimas. Overland Strategies was part of the consultant team that guided now-Senator Josh Newman to a narrow victory last year over Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang in the 29th Senate District. Overland Strategies was also the general consultant for Michele Martinez’s aforementioned losing campaign in the 1st Supervisor District.

Click here for more background on Kerr and the 4th Supervisor District.


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