City Councilman
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It isn't election season without a November surprise. But this puts an Altoona City councilman up for reelection against a local firefighters union. The controversy stems from accusations that city firefighters committed arsons. Altoona Fire Fighters IAFF Local 299 posted on Facebook late Tuesday afternoon that Councilman David Butterbaugh accuses Altoona's bravest of burning vacant buildings." "In fact he used the word, torching in group text messages when referring to these men who so valiantly defend the City of Altoona, It's despicable that a person seeking elected office categorizes the firefighters who take an oath to give up their lives if called upon, criminals." The letter, signed by Patrick Miller of IAFF Local 299 and Art Martynuska president of Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Assocation, encouraged Butterbaugh to reconsider his reelection bid. At a news conference Friday, Pat Miller said that he received the message anonimously in May and a portion of the text message reads, "They didn't like it but they stopped torching vacant buildings." Miller said that he, five executive directors and Butterbuagh had a meeting October 14th and that Butterbaugh admitted to sending the text message and that he showed no remorse. Miller said if they had this information in the previous election cycle, they would have made it public then. The councilman responded on Friday. Butterbaugh, in a statement said the allegations reek of political sabotage. "Several years ago, we were entering Act 47 and IAFF was vehemently against it." Butterbaugh added that there was a string of fires: "We didn't know who was setting those but did discuss various possibilities confidentially." Butterbaugh said he met with the executive board of the union to discuss the concerns.