The President of the Utica Police Benevolent Association is explaining the organization's endorsement in upcoming mayoral race, and why he called one of the candidates a 'socialist.'

Joshua Harrington called Democrat Celeste Friend a 'socialist', and said despite positive comments about the city's police department during her campaign, he questioned her support of officers prior to launching the mayoral run. Harrington claims he and other members of the department have said 'hello' or reached out to Friend directly, but have been ignored.

Photo Credit: Utica Police
Photo Credit: Utica Police

"She has socialist views. She talks about social workers coming in and talking to people who are committing crimes - that happened in California and social workers have gotten killed. It's dangerous, it's not a place for a social worker." Harrington continued, "...she has many views in-line with the socialist agenda. Things that she's said in council meetings have got us to that conclusion."

When pressed for other issues where Friend took a socialist stance, he said it was 'tough to keep track' because she often changes her views. Harrington expressed a belief that Friend wouldn't be fiscally responsible with city finances and said that would impact the UPD when it came to contractual issues.

On police support, Harrington said he believed Friend's recent positive comments about the UPD were a 'ploy' to gain favor in her election bid.

To the PBA's support of Republican Michael Galime, union pres said Galime - the current city council president - is a better 'fit' to run the city, is a better communicator and has a better understanding of how the city works. "He approaches us and says 'What needs to be fixed, what is the issue?'"

He also pulled no punches regarding Conservative candidate Bob Cardillo, and why his request to screen before the PBA was rejected. Harrington said he had expected Cardillo to bow-out of the race after losing the GOP primary, and also pointed to Cardillo's role in the 2011 mayoral race, along with his position on the Utica School Board of Education.

"We believe that Mr. Cardillo played a role in electing Rob Palmieri as mayor [12 years ago.] I'm not saying anything ill about [Palmieri], I think he's done a fairly good job - we've had our differences through years, but we've been able to come to terms on a lot of things," but said Cardillo's involvement as a third party candidate in 2011 split the GOP vote and allowed Palmieri to win.

"The reason we didn't screen Mr. Cardillo is because he lost the (2023) primary, and because of he's involved in the school stuff," Harrington said, referring to an ongoing investigation that has led to Utica Superintendent Bruce Karam being placed on administrative leave and has led to an indictment against ex-Board President Lou LaPolla.

Harrington did not accuse Cardillo of any wrongdoing but said his name had been mentioned in the ongoing probe.

"The unknown is concerning to us. Could he be in officer for three months and something happens in regard to the school board and now the Council President is the mayor? We really thought after he lost the primary, it was just going to be Galime and Friend running for mayor."

Listen to our entire conversation with PBA President Joshua Harrington below:

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