Voters in Arlington are faced with a decision that could change the way firefighters are hired and promoted in the city. Proposition 2 aims to create a Civil Service board in the city.
In the first week of early voting, members of the Arlington Professional Firefighters group were seen outside of polling locations with signs encouraging a vote of “yes.”
“We believe because of our current system and the way we do our promotions, our hiring and our disciplines, favoritism has crept in place and it's created a system of who you are and not what you know or what you do," David Crow, the association's president, told NBC DFW.
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Crow believes the changes are needed within the Arlington Fire Department.
“In reality, it’s a set of standards that both the city and the employees have to adhere to," said Crow. "There is no gaming the system. There’s no favoritism. There’s no cronyism involved with this. It’s a nondiscriminatory equally-applied system that we are looking to apply to our fire department.”
Opponents of Proposition 2 are concerned about what it would mean to the makeup of the department, if passed.
“I think the department will end up being less diverse," said Charlie Parker, city council member. "It will have a layer of bureaucracy that is laid between the city manager and the fire department. That doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t believe that Civil Service is something that is required.”
“I believe that this entire movement to get Civil Service into Arlington [and] into an award-winning fire department doesn’t need to happen,” Parker added. “I believe that the union [is] upset about the reduction in overtime, they don’t like the fire chief and essentially they are trying to remove diversity from the hiring process.”
It is not uncommon to see volunteers holding campaign signs on both sides of the issue standing side-by-side greeting voters at polling locations across the city.
“We’re the largest city in the state that does not have Civil Service and the largest fire department,” Crow said. “You can look at any of these other cities and see that they are top notch fire departments.”
“I think they are operating under an archaic system,” said Parker. “I think they are somewhat less efficient than what they could be and I think they are probably bogged down in state statutes.”
The City of Arlington has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Proposition 2. You can read it HERE.