Police Chief Desmond Racicot said the union is normally discouraged from getting involved in political races.
“But they felt very strongly about this, so they did,” he said.
Calnon said he believes the police endorsement sends a strong message.
“When you are trying to be a leader, what you really are doing is trying to inspire people to follow, and this is an expression of that,” he said.
Riley said the union endorsement was “nearly unanimous” among the rank and file.
The AFSCME endorsement was not without some controversy. Former union President Denise Nephew, who often battled with current Mayor Donald Kasprzak over contracts and other issues, was outraged when the union endorsed Calnon, who has served as Kasprzak’s mayor pro tem since 2007.
Union President Chris Bleaux said the union’s Executive Committee made the decision to endorse Calnon. He said they felt Calnon could be trusted.
The Fire Department union, which has often fought publicly with Kasprzak, backed Rosenquest last week, saying they felt he would communicate better with them.
Rosenquest, 38, who moved to Plattsburgh this spring after being away for 14 years, said he respects the police union’s decision, but, regardless of the gesture, he feels he is surging forward in the race.
“Up until last week, many thought that Jim Calnon was the frontrunner, but we’ve changed the dynamic of this race,” Rosenquest said.
When asked if he had conducted a poll, Rosenquest said, “My poll is my volunteers calling people and talking to people, and it has become crystal clear that what we need is change.”
Tiffer, 29, who has served on the council since 2011, said he understood why the union might want to endorse Calnon.
“I spoke to some officers, and the issues they are concerned with are the same issues the rest of the community is concerned with,” he said.