Retiring Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, has insisted since she announced she was not running for re-election this year that she would not endorse any of the candidates in the Democratic primary, letting the voters decide for themselves who the best candidate is without putting her thumb on the scales. This weekend, Mayor Greg Fischer took a different — and unusual — approach, by giving a very early and enthusiastic endorsement to Bill Hollander.
On Sunday, WFPL reported that several 9th District candidates took issue with Fischer’s decision, saying that he should have taken Ward-Pugh’s approach and kept the playing field level for candidates.
Today, Ward-Pugh told LEO that she actually agrees with those criticisms, and is disappointed that Fischer chose to jump into the race so early.
“The mayor sent me a text message on Saturday to let me know that he was going to endorse Bill Hollander that day,” said Ward-Pugh. “And I replied back to let him know how disappointed I was that he was going to do that.”
“Now there’s nothing with Bill seeking out that endorsement. He’s in a tough race and he’s going to do everything he can to win. I don’t blame him at all. Fischer said that he’s worked with him and respected him, and I can tell you that Bill Hollander helped my campaign tremendously when I first ran for office, so I know what a valuable and capable a person he is. But there are half a dozen candidates in this race who are just as qualified as Bill, and I think they deserve every right to be heard, too.”
“I think the candidates who have been quoted over the past few days criticizing Fischer’s decision to endorse absolutely have the right to do so. While the mayor has a right to endorse anyone he wants, voters are looking to find out about these candidates on their own. These are very smart voters, so they’ll take that endorsement for what it is. Voters can decide for themselves who the best candidate is.”
“I don’t want this endorsement to keep the candidates from giving it their best. Let’s lets them do that, and the voters can cast their vote for the one they think is best. The best candidates are going to rise to the top. I don’t think they should be discouraged by Fischer’s endorsement.”
Ward-Pugh isn’t running for re-election, but she’s still keeping it real.