April 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
34°F

Mayor: Anti-gun group misused my name

BRUNSWICK — Mayor Dale Strasser says he is a member of the National Rifle Association and has never supported any gun control organizations. So he was surprised to discover that pro-gun control organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns said he was a member in its promotional materials.

“My name should have never been on that material,” Strasser said. “They used my name without my consent.”

In the last few weeks, he has received numerous phone calls and e-mails after the NRA sent out a postcard to area members saying he joined a national anti-gun group and urged members to call Strasser to complain.

“It is critical that your mayor disassociate himself from the anti-gun group and you do your part by contacting his office today and urging him to withdraw his MAIG membership,” the postcard said.

Strasser is up for re-election in November and faces At-large Councilman Gary Werner.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is an organization founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is “dedicated to making America’s cities safer by cracking down on illegal guns,” according to its Web site.

When Strasser contacted the organization, he was told City Manager Bob Zienkowski had sent in a membership form, but MAIG used Strasser’s name by mistake. The form, which states the group’s principles, includes Zienkowski’s signature. Strasser’s name is nowhere on the document.

In a letter to the NRA, Zienkowski requested Strasser be removed from all materials because he never joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and it was the city manager who joined as the leader of Brunswick.

“Within these duties, I received the information and signed the document in support of this coalition,” Zienkowski said in the letter. “Mayor Strasser was unaware of this information, did not sign, nor has any responsibility for responding to such requests.”

Zienkowski said Friday he joined MAIG in September 2008 after hearing about it at a meeting of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association. He has since dropped his membership.

“In principle, this was a good thing to sign on to,” he said. “I ended up doing some more homework and saw there were partisan viewpoints on there. To me, this raises a red flag.”

Zienkowski said he also has noticed the content of MAIG’s Web site at mayorsagainstillegalguns.org has changed within the last couple of weeks.

Along with Strasser, several other mayors throughout the state have said their names were used by MAIG without their permission, according to an article by the Buckeye Firearms Association.

One example is Rittman Mayor Bill Robertson, who said he signed something at the meeting of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, but was not aware it was a membership statement for any organization.

Like Strasser, Robertson’s name also was used in promotional materials.

MAIG did not immediately return an e-mail request for comment.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.