Thomas D. Wright
|Thomas David "Tommy" Wright|
Louisiana State Representativ
for District 22 (Grant, LaSalle,
Winn, and Rapides parishes)
May 1, 1996 – January 2006
|Preceded by||Stephen Gunn|
|Succeeded by||Billy Chandler|
Member of the Jena City Council
1982 – 1996
|Born|| January 16, 1956|
Place of birth missing
Resident of Jena, Louisiana
|Spouse(s)|| Brenda Wright|
|Children|| Rosalyn R. Wright|
|Alma mater||Jena High School|
|Religion||United Methodist |
Thomas David Wright, also known as Tommy Wright (born January 16, 1956), is a Democrat from Jena in LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, who resigned as a state representative early in 2006 because of a misdemeanor obscenity charge.
For ten years, Wright represented District 22 in the north central section of the state. The district encompasses all of Grant and LaSalle parishes and most of Winn Parish, and a single precinct in Rapides Parish.
Wright is the older of two children of Monroe David "Monk" Wright (1920-2002), a merchant, and the former Madella Hines (1921-2005), who are interred at Nolley Memorial Methodist Cemetery in Jena. As of 2002, he was married to Brenda Wright.
When he entered the legislature in 1996, Wright listed his occupation as a "teacher and a businessman." He cited a business administration degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana University. He also did graduate studies at the same institution. In 1977, he formed Wright Real Estate in Jena. He was briefly a Pontiac dealer. In 1982, he was elected to the Jena City Council and held that position until he became a state representative in 1996. He holds membership in the La Salle Economic Development Council, the Catahoula Lake chapter of Ducks Unlimited, the Masonic Lodge, and the United Methodist Church.
Wright was first elected to the state House in the fall of 1995 to succeed the Independent Representative Stephen Gunn, who later served two nonconsecutive stints as the mayor of rural Montgomery in Grant Parish. He defeated fellow Democrat Clifford Zell in the nonpartisan blanket primary. Gunn, a businessman, served only one term and did not seek reelection. He became the mayor of Montgomery in 200 and again in 2018. In 1999, Wright defeated the Republican candidate, Ira Preuett in the primary, 7,487 votes (52 percent) to 6,823 (48 percent).
In 2002, Wright began fund-raising to contest the 5th congressional district seat in the United States House of Representatives, but in the end he did not enter the race. The seat became open when incumbent Republican John Cooksey, an ophthalmologist from Monroe, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against Mary Landrieu. A Democrat, Rodney Alexander, later a Republican convert, narrowly won the position over the Republican Lee Fletcher.
In 2003, Wright led several opponents in the primary, including former Pineville Mayor Floyd Smith, who had returned to his native Winn Parish. In the general election, Wright dispatched Republican Tony K. Owens (born 1960), also of Jena but then living in of Winnfield. Wright received 6,964 votes (52 percent) to Owens' 6,465 (48 percent) in the 76 precincts in the district.In 2003, the percent breakdown, 52 to 28, was identical to that in 1999 in Wright's race against Ira Preuett.
Wright was succeeded in office by his fellow Democrat, Billy Chandler, a former Grant Parish School Board member from the village of Dry Prong. Chandler said in his victory statement that it was clear that many voters in the district were unhappy with Wright's controversies. As the newest legislator in Baton Rouge, Chandler vowed to look after the interests of the "little man." Chandler, like Wright three years earlier, also defeated Owens to win the position in the April 29 special election runoff contest.
Misdemeanor obscenity charge
Wright was charged with an obscenity violation at Lake Buhlow in Pineville in Rapides Parish. He and Charles Locher, II (born c. 1972) of Deville in Rapides Parish, were arrested in 2004, when a Red River Waterway Commission park ranger said that he walked into a public restroom and found the men engaged in sexual activities. Wright and Locker denied the charges since their arrests and grand jury indictments. The two initially pleaded not guilty. Wright claimed that he had dropped his pants as the ranger entered the restroom and that the ranger misinterpreted the situation. Locker denied impropriety and said that he did not know Wright. The two changed their pleas to guilty on misdemeanor charges. Wright pleaded guilty to flight from an officer, and Locher pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal mischief, according to Harold A. Van Dyke, III, then the first assistant district attorney in Rapides Parish.
Dismissal from Jena trade school
Meanwhile, Wright was dismissed from his position at the Jena campus of the Alexandria-based Louisiana Technical College after he was found to have used paid sick leave to attend legislative sessions. Wright then sued the state for wrongful termination. He argued that his sick leave requests were approved with bona fide medical excuses. Wright accused his fellow Democrat, Governor Kathleen Blanco, of ordering his firing because he had angered technical college administrators when he questioned some of their practices.
Wright began his career with the vocational technical system as a business instructor in August 1988. Prior to his dismissal, he had been a tech prep coordinator on the Jena campus. The position involved his acting as a mediator between public schools and the vocational-technical schools/community colleges. Early in 2006, Wright failed to obtain legal reinstatement to his job with the technical college.
- ↑ Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on May 12, 2020.
- ↑ Monroe David "Monk" Wright. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 12, 2020.
- ↑ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 21, 1995.
- ↑ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 23, 1999.
- ↑ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October4, 2003.
- ↑ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 15, 2003.
- ↑ Mandy M. Goodnight and John Hill (August 12, 2004). [www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1190088/posts Louisiana State Rep. Tommy Wright, D-Jena, Accused of Obscenity]. Alexandria Town Talk, accessed through Free Republic. Retrieved on May 12, 2020.
- ↑ The Alexandria Town Talk, December 30, 2005.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Central Louisiana legislative seat up for grabs. The Shreveport Times through newspapers.com (January 4, 2006). Retrieved on May 12, 2020.