Mauro Cantalamessa, the Democratic candidate for Trumbull County commissioner in November, has gotten the support of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Cantalamessa's opponent, Republican J.D. Williams, isn't so much upset about not getting the group's endorsement as he is over not being given the chance to speak to the council; he claims he was never given the opportunity to request their support of his campaign.
Williams said the labor council ''turned their back on their union brother, which is me.'' Williams belongs to the Air Line Pilots Association, a group of the AFL-CIO.
Bill Padisak, president of the labor council, said the Aug. 20 meeting was not held for ''the purposes of an endorsement,'' but was a regular meeting of the group that Cantalamessa had requested to address that turned into the body voting to officially endorse Cantalamessa's candidacy.
Cantalamessa, said Padisak, was not there for an endorsement, but rather a ''meet and greet,'' nor did he ask for the labor council's support.
Padisak said the labor council typically endorses candidates before the primary election, but this is an atypical situation - labor council members were concerned about a time crunch and being able to arrange candidate screenings, so a motion was made and passed to endorse Cantalamessa. He was not present while council members discussed his candidacy and voted.
Although a committee ordinarily reviews questionnaires completed and returned by the candidates to see where they stand on the issues ahead of an interview, the ''ultimate decision on who to endorse is up to the body,'' said Padisak.
Cantalamessa of Warren, a former teacher who is owner / operator of Enzo's Restaurant, and Williams of Liberty, a retired Air Force reservist and airline pilot, were picked by their parties to run for the unexpired term of the late Commissioner Paul Heltzel.
Williams said he is ''surprised and taken aback'' by the sudden vote and ''disappointed'' the normal process was not followed.
Their vote, said Williams, ''sent their union brother a loud and clear message and I am disappointed.''
Padisak said council members had concerns about Williams' affiliation with the Republican Party, which in 2011 ''clearly came after collective bargaining and unions'' with Senate Bill 5.
Also, there are ''a lot of ties between the council and the Cantalamessa family,'' said Padisak. The council holds its annual Christmas part at Enzo's in Warren in the years it is held in Trumbull County and it worked closely with Cantalamessa's brother, Warren Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa, in the campaign to elect Doug Franklin mayor of Warren, said Padisak.