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It could have become a controversy, but some quick action by candidate for State Senate Marc Coppola averted what he calls a “misunderstanding.”

The Democratic candidate was in hot water earlier today after a scathing news release was put out by Chief Ed Mileham of the Pembroke Fire District. Apparently, Coppola sent out a campaign mailer to all residents of Genesee County, that featured a picture of him with a Pembroke firefighter. The picture was taken at a dedication ceremony for deceased firefighters in the department.

Mileham accused Coppola of using the solemn ceremony for his own political gain. Mileham even went so far as to question Coppola’s integrity.

When we reached Marc Coppola today, he said he’d just spoken with Chief Mileham. Coppola says he told the Chief the picture was not supposed to serve as an endorsement.

"There was no mention (of the Pembroke Fire District) in any of the wording, other than identifying the picture and where it was taken," says Coppola. "But I did tell him, 'Look, we might disagree on what's offensive or what's not.

"I apologize if there was (something offensive), I was not trying to allude to any endorsement of Pembroke Fire Department.' He accepted my apology and we've moved on."

Coppola says he merely wanted to show Genesee County residents that he knows the county, and they won’t be forgotten if he goes to Albany.

Mileham called WBTA a short while later, echoing what Coppola said.

"I'd received some phone calls on it, that it looked like the Pembroke Fire District was endorsing Marc Coppola," said Mileham. Under law, a non-profit government-run fire district cannot endorse any candidate for any office.

"He called, he apologized," Mileham confirmed. "That'll be the end of it."

The campaign mailer in question reaches most Genesee County mailboxes by today.


The Pembroke Fire Department has a big beef with a candidate for the New York State Senate.

"The Pembroke Fire Department is strongly disappointed in the unauthorized use of of our department likeness and logo in a recent campaign mail piece by candidate Marc Coppola that was sent to residents across Genesee County," according to a statement from Ed Mileham Jr., District Chief of the Pembroke Fire District..

Coppola is the Democratic-endorsed candidate for the for the 61st State Senate District. The seat is now held by Republican Michael Ranzenhofer, who is seeking a second term.

The department member pictured in the ad with the candidate was not authorized by the Pembroke Fire District for this promotion, Mileham wrote.

The fire district chief also wrote:
"The Pembroke Fire District does not endorse candidates in elections.

We question the integrity of any candidate who would run an ad using our likeness and that is written in such a way that it could be falsely construed as an endorsement for his candidacy.

As well, we are disturbed that Mr. Coppola would use the solemn event of the dedication of a truck to deceased department members in a political ad. The ad shockingly refers to the deceased members we were honoring and shows the plaque dedicated to them. The candidate was in no way involved in the dedication and appears to have used this event in a crass attempt to obtain votes.

Therefore, the Pembroke Fire District is calling on Mr. Coppola to retract his mailer and discontinue the use of our likeness and logo in any future mailings and on his website."

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