Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara might still pay a price for making the right vote. Either way, it didn’t stop City Council from electing an inexperienced and unqualified lackey for the at-large seat vacated by Phil Copeland.
Mr. McNamara irked Lucas County Democratic Party leaders by refusing to back union-annointed, party-endorsed Shaun Enright for the council at-large seat vacated by Mr. Copeland, who stepped down because he was elected Nov. 2 as Lucas County recorder.
Still, Mr. Enright got the six votes he needed to replace Mr. Copeland on Tuesday when Republican George Sarantou had a change of heart and voted for him. Mr. Enright is an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8 staff organizer. Labor leaders say council needs Mr. Enright’s youth and that labor needs a voice on council.
Unfortunately, Mr. Enright has no political experience or qualifications. He does have a criminal record and a past bankruptcy that county Democratic chairman Ron Rothenbuler dismissed as youthful indiscretions.
Mr. McNamara wanted former Toledo Mayor Jack Ford to replace Mr. Copeland, claiming it would be “unjust” if the seat was not filled by another African American. Mr. Ford is a former state representative, Toledo mayor, and Toledo Board of Education member.
Now Democrats will decide what, if anything, they should do to Mr. McNamara for failing to support their candidate. They have talked about removing him from the party’s executive committee, a move that might be unnoticed by many citizens but would dampen Mr. McNamara’s possible run for mayor.
Mr. McNamara’s show of integrity could also benefit him. He refused to kowtow to pressure or put party loyalty above what he perceived as his civic duty.
By contrast, Dennis Duffey, secretary-treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, said the City Council president “should be removed, tarred and feathered, or de-nutted” for daring to put his oath to the people of Toledo ahead of party loyalty.
In electing Mr. Enright, and threatening Mr. McNamara, some council members continued to put party loyalty above civic duty — or they simply don’t know the difference. Neither they, nor the union tail that’s wagging this Democratic dog, have the right to threaten council members like thugs.
A City Council seat is not an internship to be handed out to untried political wannabes. If Democrats and IBEW Local 8 want Mr. Enright to learn to be a politician, teach him first how to win an election.
It may have been too much to hope for City Council’s Democratic majority to replace Mr. Copeland with the best-qualified candidate, regardless of party affiliation. But they should have shown respect for the positions they hold — and the people of Toledo — by rejecting such a blatant attempt to rig the vote.
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