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Boilermaker climbs political ladder in Pennsylvania

Dan Engle campaigns for Northampton County Council District 4 in Pennsylvania at a carnival in Roseto. L. to r., Roseto Mayor Joseph C. Angelini, Engle and Northampton County District Attorney candidate Terry Houck.

GROWING UP, DAN ENGLE’S parents were always active in their community and encouraged their four children to be as well. But Engle, Local 28 (Newark, New Jersey) never suspected the example his parents set would lead him into a life of politics.

Engle is a 4th generation Boilermaker and lives with his wife, Lindsay, and teenaged son and daughter, in Roseto, Pennsylvania—a town of almost 2,000 residents. He completed his apprenticeship program 17 years ago and credits the program with teaching him “how to get the job done the right way the first time and safely.” He’s been a foreman and steward on several multi-million-dollar job sites.

For the past 10 years, Engle has been a political advisor for L-28, meeting with local and national elected leaders on issues of concern to working people in his community. In addition, he has served two terms as inspector of L-28 and was elected to serve as a delegate to the Boilermakers National Convention.

And this year he threw his hat into the ring to sit on the Northampton County Council District 4. He is campaigning for enforcement of the county’s Responsible Contractor Ordinance which requires contractors and employers to provide a safe job site where the workers are qualified, have the right equipment and are paid prevailing wages.

As one would guess, he didn’t make this decision overnight. His brother, Frank, says Engle has always “been active with what’s going on in the world around him.”

Engle’s mom, Susan, takes that a step further, saying “He realizes how important it is to be knowledgeable about the world and how you can change things.”

His public political career started in 2017 when Engle was approached by Local 13 (Philadelphia) leadership to run on a write-in campaign for Roseto Borough Council the week before the November election.

Engle was concerned he didn’t have enough time to devote to public office. But, “labor needed a voice. Our council needed a middle class voice like mine,” he says. “If you feel something that passionately, I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, you go for it.” So, he did.

Engle, his family and friends spread the news in the days before the election via Facebook and word-of-mouth and, much to his surprise, he won on the write-in ballot by 16 votes. He’s glad he did.

In the last two years serving on the council’s property board, Engle has focused much of his effort on various project labor agreements by enforcing the Davis Bacon Act (which says contractors working on federally funded contracts over $2,000 to construct and repair public buildings must pay their workers no less than the locally prevailing wages). Engle says this is especially important because there are multiple cement plants and trucking distribution centers in his area that try to avoid paying taxes and don’t honor prevailing wage laws.

He has also argued successfully for the state of Pennsylvania to fund a portion of a sidewalk project in Roseto when some people couldn’t afford the additional taxes levied against them to pay for it.

And all this is after (or before!) Engle commutes about 90 minutes each way to work at a natural gas plant in the Meadowlands Environment Center just north of Newark, New Jersey.

“I’m running this campaign [for Northampton County Council District 4] because I know what it’s like to strap on work boots every morning thinking we no longer have a voice in politics,” Engle concludes passionately. “I know what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck and wondering if anyone listens to the people anymore. I want to be the ears and the voice [for workers in our county and state].”

View a profile video of Engle recounting his 2017 ballot victory.