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Kim White and Tim Kelly are seen in this combined photo

Local police and firefighter unions have endorsed leading mayoral candidates Kim White and Tim Kelly, respectively, to lead the city beginning in April.

Ahead of the March 2 municipal election, three different groups of Chattanooga first responders have endorsed Kelly or White out of the field of 14 candidates.

Last week, the local chapters of the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers endorsed White, the former president of River City Co., in separate endorsements.

"I am profoundly moved by the endorsements of two organizations that represent some of the bravest and most dedicated individuals in our community," White said in a release. "I am deeply grateful for the sacrifices our law enforcement officers make every day to keep our community safe. It is a distinct honor and privilege to have their support in this campaign."

White met with the FOP in the fall after initiating a conversation with the group, according to a November statement to the Times Free Press.

"I appreciated the opportunity to recently meet with the FOP and thought we had a very productive conversation," White said by email. "In that meeting I told the group that I support Chief [David] Roddy and look forward to working with him and his leadership team to give them the resources and support needed in order for them to be as successful as possible."

(READ MORE: How Chattanooga's 2021 mayoral candidates plan to address police reform)

Meanwhile, businessman and fellow mayoral frontrunner Tim Kelly was endorsed by the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association (IAFF Local 820) on Wednesday.

"As firefighters, we know how important it is to remain cool under pressure, and we need a mayor who can handle the heat of this critical public office," Jack Thompson, president of the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association, said in a news release. "Tim Kelly has the experience, judgment and temperament to lead our city. He knows the value of firefighters and the risks they take to keep our community safe. We're proud to endorse him to be the next mayor of Chattanooga."

In a news release, Kelly says he would work with the group in his first 100 days in office to develop and begin implementation of a pay plan that will resolve pay disparities while enhancing recruitment and retention efforts, if elected. Additionally, Kelly said he will partner with department leaders to develop a common-sense capital plan to ensure that first responders have the equipment and resources to keep Chattanooga safe.

"Firefighters save lives every day in Chattanooga, and I am honored and grateful for their support," Kelly said. "I look forward to a very productive, working relationship with the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association to develop a fair pay plan, expand mental health support for firefighters, and ensure that all firefighters are properly trained and equipped."

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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