New Toledo city Councilman Shaun Enright meets Paula Howell, an administrative secretary in the council offices at One Government Center. Mr. Enright, 33, was appointed Tuesday to the seat Phil Copeland left.
Newly appointed Toledo City Councilman Shaun Enright, a Democrat and electricians’ union official, might not be able to count on the support of the city police officers’ union in the fall election to secure one of six at-large city council seats.
The union, which usually supports Democrats, said he displayed a lack of candor regarding a 1999 criminal record.
Toledo City Councilman Shaun Enright fills out paperwork at One Government Center. Wednesday was his first day on the job and critics are riled about his appointment on Tuesday.
Officer Dan Wagner, president of the Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association, said the union’s political action committee was “taken aback” to learn the details of Mr. Enright’s record when it came to light. The Blade reported on Mr. Enright’s criminal record on Nov. 24.
Mr. Wagner said Mr. Enright in 2011 met with the police union’s political action committee to seek its endorsement against Democratic incumbent Mike Craig in District 3, and he volunteered an arrest for having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.
Only recently did members of the police union learn Mr. Enright had been convicted of carrying a concealed handgun and was charged with threatening a sheriff’s deputy.
“He spoke about his past and we were a little concerned he was not completely forthcoming. He made us aware of one minor infraction,” Mr. Wagner said. “He basically said it was open container.”
“They’ve made it clear to me that they will not extend an endorsement to Shaun because he was not completely truthful,” Mr. Wagner said.
He said the TPPA’s political action committee is also doubtful that Mr. Enright can hold onto the seat in the fall election because he lost his 2011 race against Mr. Craig.
Mr. Wagner said he made that point to several Democratic members of Toledo City Council before Mr. Enright’s vacancy appointment on Tuesday, but it appeared their minds were already set on Mr. Enright.
In 2011, the police union supported 14 candidates, mostly Democrats but including two Republicans, in a variety of races with contributions of $200 to $300 each.
Mr. Enright was endorsed, but not given a campaign contribution.
The union supported Mr. Enright because of its displeasure with Mr. Craig’s support for “exigent circumstances” legislation in 2010 that empowered Mayor Mike Bell to cut city workers’ pay and benefits without renegotiating their contracts.
Mr. Enright, 33, said the police union PAC did not ask for his criminal record in their 2011 meeting.
“That's their opinion,” he said.
In September, 1999, Mr. Enright was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to six months in jail, but the entire sentence was suspended. He was placed on inactive probation for one year.
According to a complaint filed in Toledo Municipal Court in July, 1999, Mr. Enright “had concealed and ready at hand the loaded Lorcin 25-caliber automatic pistol found underneath the driver’s seat” of a car he was driving.
The court record indicates he was pulled over for failure to display a license, not wearing a seat belt, and slow speed. He said the gun belonged to one of his friends in the vehicle that day.
In November, 1998, he was charged with having an open container in a stopped vehicle, menacing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct-intoxication. All the charges were dismissed. The felony menacing charge stemmed from an exchange at his booking during which Mr. Enright told a sheriff's deputy “that he would remember his face and take care of him when he got out of jail,” records show.
Mr. Enright’s brushes with the law as a younger man have dogged him as he has emerged onto the political scene. Mr. Craig circulated information about Mr. Enright’s criminal record in their 2011 campaign.
Mr. Enright and his backers have said that he outgrew his youthful misbehavior.
He got a two-year degree from Owens Community College while working two jobs and then went through the electricians’ apprenticeship program to become a journeyman electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8.
He and his wife have three sons, and he still lives in the same block in East Toledo where he grew up.
He said that during his youth, “there was a lot of people in trouble all the time.”
“I had a choice to make. The people that I hung around, that lived around there, they were either dead or in jail, and did I want to end up like them? I decided I didn’t want to,” Mr. Enright said.
“I'm not blaming anybody. I’m taking full responsibility.”
George Tucker, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO council of area unions, said it was not surprising that Mr. Craig was re-elected since he was the incumbent and it was Mr. Enright’s first attempt at political office.
“It comes down to a matter of what the public wants, whether they feel a person can screw up and change their life or whether they get something like that on their record and then they’re doomed to never have a meaningful job,” Mr. Tucker said.
He said Mr. Enright was forthright with the Democratic executive committee and has shown integrity.
Mr. Enright was appointed Tuesday to fill the vacancy left by Phil Copeland, a Democrat who resigned after his November election to Lucas County recorder.
Mr. Enright was stuck at five votes — one shy of the necessary majority of six — until the third round of balloting when Republican Councilman George Sarantou voted for him.
The Lucas County Democratic Party’s executive committee endorsed Mr. Enright, but two Democrats on council — Mr. Craig and Council President Joe McNamara — instead supported former city Mayor Jack Ford for the vacancy.
Mr. McNamara, who is chairman of the party’s central committee, is facing a threat of removal from the executive committee, and even physical injury, because of his refusal to follow the party's recommendation.
Dennis Duffey, a former head of Local 8 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and secretary-treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, told The Blade that Mr. McNamara should receive some consequence for his stand against the party’s recommendation, possibly to include being “tarred and feathered” or “de-nutted.”
The comment was the centerpiece of a report on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta show, hosted by Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday night.
Mr. Enright said his agenda includes creating jobs and reducing crime and stressed that he already started working on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after his appointment to council.
“With creating jobs, the idea is to get with the Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Growth Partnership to get together for construction,” he said. “I have some emails out today already to the chamber of commerce.”
He said he wants to help create more incentives for businesses while connecting banks with companies.
“That’s what I want to offer here — whether it’s state or city or whatever else we can do,” Mr. Enright said.
Mr. Enright acknowledged that he has developed a reputation as a tough union organizer, but he’s not a “union thug,” as some have portrayed him.
“To sum it up, I am an organizer so what my job is — say you’re an electrical contractor out there paying a guy $12 an hour. Why would you like me if I am out there convincing your guy he should make $35.09 an hour?” he said. “So I think that’s where I think a lot of the image comes in that I am strong-arming businesses.”
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.
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