As readers of The Stark County Political Report knows, one of yours truly's favorite elected officials is Canton City Council Ward 8 councilman Edmond J. Mack.
Just a few days ago, The Report—in the latest quarterly update—again named Mack to the SCPR's Top 10 List of Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials (LINK).
So it was just a bit disconcerting to get this e-mail yesterday, to wit:
Martin, here's a heads up for you.
(You must verify yourself). [SCPR Note: "Of course! The Report always does].
I understand a few months ago Mr. Edmund Mack had a meeting with a few of the Stark County Democratic Party Leaders and discussed the following.
That he was soon to be made a partner in his law firm and when that happened he would be tendering his resignation as Councilor of Ward 8 in Canton.
He asked that in his place they appoint Dr. Peter Ferguson to fill the vacancy. Good luck on getting to the bottom of this. May you and your family have a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
"You must verify yourself?"
The SCPR does print anything that yours truly either has confirmed with a (the) principal or other sources and is convinced of the accuracy of the story.
And that is exactly with The Report did with Councilman Mack.
Edmond J. Mack <firstname.lastname@example.org> Nov 24 at 11:07 PM To: Martin Olson
Thanks for the note, Martin. Mostly true, but not the entire story. I began discussions with firm management regarding joining the partnership in January. Initially, the discussions were that I would not run for re-election this year in light of my joining the partnership at the end of this year. As a result, I had discussions with several persons about running for my position this past spring in my place, including Dr. Ferguson. However, after further discussions, the firm and I both agreed that is best if I stay on council for at least another term. Hence, I ran for re-election. I do not intend on resigning mid-term. In light of my practice, I expect that my service on council will not last forever, and that my time on City Council will be limited. However, I really do enjoy trying to help this City improve. I am becoming increasingly encouraged by our new Mayor’s leadership. I am going to try to do as much as I can while I am here. Hope all is well, and to see you soon. In the interim, I hope you, your wife, and your daughters have a great Thanksgiving. Edmond (Enlarged portion of text for emphasis)
As the SCPR sees this matter, it is terrific news that Councilman Mack will be staying on for at least one more term.
Mayor-elect Thomas M. Bernabei and Cantonians-at-large need Mack's presence on council for Canton to successfully make a transition from a "politics as the usual fare" administration to one in which politics is minimized.
As yours truly has written, it has been difficult to wrap one's mind around Mack's support of now lame duck mayor William J. Healy, II in Healy's endeavor to win a third term.
The SCPR sees Edmond J. Mack much more in the mode of a Thomas M. Bernabei (a no-nonsense, "Let's Do What is Best for Our Constituents" elected official) than the 24/7 politically calculating William J. Healy, II.
The Report is encouraged that Mack is beginning to see Bernabei ("I am increasingly encouraged by our new Mayor's leadership") as the SCPR has seen him going back the five years he has served as a highly effective Stark County commissioner.
Bernabei and Mack are among the brightest, most energetic and dedicated to the public good elected officials that Canton/Stark County has to offer.
Mack is fully capable of vetting in an incisive way any Bernabei administration proposals that come down the pike.
And The Report is confident that he will do so and thereby be a key council official in maintaining a legislative/executive check and balance that will ensure that Canton government makes wise decisions going forward.
Thomas Bernabei is almost 70 years old.
While Bernabei shows no signs whatsoever of slowing down, Cantonians need to be looking for leadership from a younger generation in four years.
From what has seen of Mack, he is exactly what a doctor of politics would order as a follow-on to one term of Bernabei as mayor.
Understandably, Lee Plakas (Mack's boss) recognizes Edmond's enormous talent and skill and wants his full attention focused on the Plakas Law Firm agenda.
As The Report sees Mack, he possesses the wherewithal to be both a sterling partner in the Plakas firm and a highly effective Canton government official.
Accordingly and hopefully, Plakas will see what a vital part there is in someone of Mack's abilities has to play in providing younger generation leadership to the executive function of Canton and will find a way to structure Mack's professional obligations so that he can also be possible successor to Bernabei four years hence.
Alliance Republican Alex Zumbar has been an enormous success as Stark County treasurer.
As a Republican appointed as county treasurer by the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party via its central committee on October 31, 2011, he has to be like a festering sore to the likes for former Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez (chairman presiding over the Zumbar appointment).
SCPR Note: Most Stark Countians know the circumstances under which the Dems were compelled to appoint a Republican as a successor to the Dems original appointee; namely, Gary D. Zeigler (1999). But for those who do not, here is a LINK to the SCPR blog of November 1, 2011 wherein The Report provides an exhaustive background on the reasons why.
With his initial term under his belt, Zumbar will be running for re-election in 2016.
The question is: Will the Dems' try to unseat him this time around?
The SCPR thinks not.
But we shall see. The filing deadline in December 16th.
Republicans and good government Stark Countians were overjoyed to see Zumbar sworn in as a consequence of the unprecedented Stark Dems' action.
Zumbar started off as #5 on The Stark County Political Report Top 10 List of Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials. On the first quarterly update, he moved up to #4 where he remains in the current update which The Report is publishing beginning last Thursday until the Top 10 List is completed.
Links to the prior blogs detailing why Zumbar deserves include:
Zumbar's latest work in looking out for the interests of Stark County taxpayers is shown in his teaming up with fellow Republican Alan Harold (Stark County auditor) to reduce the number of delinquent taxpayers on the books of Stark County real property assessment logs.
In the following video, Zumbar and Harold describe to the Stark County commissioners the extra-effort that they are going to at a minimal expense to county taxpayers in terms of additional publication costs (about $2,200) in having published on Sunday, November 15th the entire list of delinquent real property taxpayers even though Ohio law only mandates the publication of a list of current year "having gone delinquent" taxpayers.
Zumbar during his time as treasurer (both appointed/elected) has done a terrific job in setting up infrastructure (i.e. more secure physical facilities, procedural safeguards designed to prevent theft of county funds, and more secure policies in handling taxpayer funds) improvements.
An additional task Zumbar has taken on is the creation of and the administration of what is popularly known of as being a "Land Bank" wherein abandoned properties are targeted for demolition with funds provided by state of Ohio funding and local match dollars.
Canton in particular has benefited from the demolition. But it has taken prodding by Zumbar to keep Healy administration officials on a timely basis of using available funds so that the Stark County does not lose any dollars which are not direct Stark County taxpayer dollars.
As with nearly all those on the SCPR Top 10 List, The Report has had criticisms of certain aspects of Zumbar's administration of the county treasury, to wit (from a prior blog):
in seemingly injecting Republican politics into his relationship with Canton's Democratic council, and
his apparent to the SCPR circumventing of appropriate employment practices in providing jobs to politically connected Republicans and thereby depriving the Stark County public from a fair opportunity to obtain these jobs,
But all-in-all Zumbar is a vast improvement over what preceded him. Moreover, he continues to make improvements in treasury functions witness the above-described joint project with Auditor Alan Harold to collect delinquent tax dollars.
Accordingly, Zumbar for this quarterly assessment remains at #4 on the hard-to-qualify for SCPR Top 10 List of Stark County Political Subdivison Elected Officials.
As The Stark County Political Report sees it, the future of the city of Canton lies with Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack.
On November 3rd, there certainly was a dramatic improvement in the immediate prospects for the Hall of Fame City with the election of Stark County "independent" commissioner Thomas Bernabei (#1 on The Top 10 List of the SCPR's Stark County Political Subdivision of Elected Officials [List]) as mayor of Canton.
As well taken with Mack as the SCPR is, it is hard to understand his staunch support of incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II for election to a third term.
If, as he says, Mack's support of Healy has been grounded in discouraging Bernabei—a lifelong Democrat—wannabes from bolting the party in what Mack apparently sees as an exercise in political opportunism on Bernabei's part which undermines the stability of our democratic–republican system of government.
On this point, The Report and Mack see things differently.
Yours truly sees the Bernabei move as being a courageous if not sacrificial act to rescue Canton from the clutch of Healy whom The Report sees as one of the most, if not the most, accomplished, oily and self-serving politician that Canton has ever seen.
No doubt about it. Along the path of his eight years of being mayor, Healy has made some positive contributions to the well being of Canton.
But the SCPR sees such as mostly happenstance which the grandstanding Healy was all to happy to claim credit for but which is mostly attributed to the effective check and balance function of Canton City Council under the leadership of Mack himself, his fellows Mariol, Morris, Fisher, Hawk and Smuckler.
Indications are that council members as a whole going forward will continue to see Canton government as being a strong council model of government vis-a-vis the executive function.
And that should be just fine with Mayor-elect Bernabei. For he is a doer who wants to improve the quality of government wherever he has served and is not as contrasted to Healy looking for political credit. Mack and his fellows over time will find Bernabei's style of leadership much more of a partnership type where there are plenty of laurels handed out to council members for concrete achievements with the new mayor content that the quiet intangibles inherent in his leadership style has been a "value added" factor in bringing Canton out of its decades old malaise.
Notwithstanding The Report differences with Mack on our respective takes on Mayor Healy's quality of leadership, yours truly thinks that Edmond J. Mack is his generation's most capable political/government leader for Canton and derivatively for all of Stark County going forward.
Hence his continuing at #3 on the SCPR Top 10 List.
Mack's most impressive contribution in terms of setting a marker for his progressive but stable trek for bring good government to Canton is his work on trying to convince Cantonians to adopt a charter form of government (LINK to prior SCPR blog).
a massive $10,000 contributed by Stark County's trade unions under the negative (in terms of the future well being of Canton) leadership of Local #94 Plumbers and Pipefitters business agent David Kirven (who, by the way, lives in North Canton) to a Political Action Committee,
in combination with self-serving, protect-my-turf elected officials such as Canton auditor R.A. Mallonn and Canton treasurer Kim Perez,
prevented Mack from being successful in his quest to provide Canton government with one more too meet the increasingly difficult task of effective governance in these times and going forward.
SCPR Note: After this blog's publication (LINK), Kirven and St. John disappeared from PAC filing documents on the documents being amended to the Stark County Board of Elections.
In time The Report thinks Mack will look back at back at thoroughgoing Democrats such as Kirven, Mallonn and Perez as having been detrimental to Canton's quest to get on a good-government-motivated-productive track to improving the city's footprint.
Mayor-elect Bernabei has not lost his interest in Mack's quest. But obviously now there are "bigger fish to fry". In the meantime, The Report trusts that Mack will continue a quiet campaign to win the hearts and minds of nearly all who serve in Canton government and one day again rise with a new charter government effort.
Another disappointment to Mack has to have been the resistance he experienced a year or so ago in his endeavor to put a $10,000 Canton Parks Commission grant to work within Ward 8.
Mack's initiative in conjunction with Parks Commission Director Derek Gordon was a demonstration of leadership on his part.
Moreover, the topped that move with one of the purest form of democratic-republicanism that Canton likely has seen in many a moon in setting up and absorbing citizen input (far and away in opposition) at a St. Mark's Church event.
It had to be a gnawing experience to say the least. But, having the mature leadership qualities that The Report thinks he possesses; Mack backed off and heeded the wishes of those constituents whom seem to have understood the sentiment of a majority of Ward 8 residents.
While Mayor-elect Bernabei will be the most visible form of leadership in Canton over the next four years, Mack as the de facto, the SCPR thinks, leader of council (Ward 9's Frank Morris [majority leader] and Ward 4's Chris Smith [assistant majority leader] being the de jure leaders) will continue to be a constructive force in Canton government for the reconstruction of a viable local government.
Another leadership marker possessed by Mack is his knack for honing in upon in council's work sessions on critical Canton issues with incisive questioning.
An example of the Mack technique The Report is referring to is to be caught in this video from last Monday's session on the issue of adequately staffing of Canton's fire stations (LINK to underlying SCPR blog):
Over the years that the SCPR has covered Canton City Council, yours truly has taken any many such examinations at the hand of Councilman.
As with any of the SCPR's Top 10 List selections, yours truly does not present Mack as a flawless leader.
But he is mature.
He is thorough.
He is thoughtful.
And consequently he rightfully continues for this quarter his place on the hard-to-place-on-Top 10 List as the SCPR #3 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Official.
Today, The Stark County Political Report continues on with its quarterly update of Stark County's "Top 10" Elected Officials List.
Yesterday' #1 (Canton mayor-elect Thomas Bernabei) was a no-brainer as is today's at #2 in Stark County auditor Alan Harold.
Of all of Stark's political subdivision governments, the commissioners (Bernabei's currently held position) and the auditor's office experienced the most dramatic improvements with the 2010 elections.
The replacement or former Democratic county auditor Kim Perez (now Canton's treasurer) with Alan Harold has proved to be a major upgrade in Stark's auditing leadership.
Some political observers think that Perez was unfairly a victim of things going awry in the Stark County's treasury with the revelation that former chief deputy Vince Frustaci has stolen upwards of $3 million from the Stark treasurer's office over period of a number of years immediately preceding being found out in April, 2009.
Alan Harold from about 2007 on was a Republican political star on the horizon.
In 2008, he entertained notions of running against Stark County Democratic treasurer Gary D. Zeigler but opted out, to wit (also from the 2011 SCPR blog):
An interesting question on Harold is: Had he run, would he likely have been elected?
The SCPR thinks not. By 2008, Zeigler having been appointed in 1999 to replace certification troubled Democratic treasurer Mark Roach, was firmly ensconced as treasurer as part of the-then (in the opinion The Report) Stark "organized" Dems' "good ole boy network" of the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, Randy Gonzalez and their ilk.
As indicated in the blurb above, he ran for a spot on the Stark County Educational Service Governing Board in 2009 in a losing effort.
In 2010, Harold was able to exploit the probable public perception Perez in relation to the Stark treasury situation with this result:
Ever since being elected Harold has proved "to be worth his weight in gold" as a Stark County elected official.
Here are two links, to prior SCPR blogs in placing Harold on The Report Top 10 List:
But as always with the SCPR "all is not all roses" with Harold as far as the SCPR is concerned, to wit:
Here are links to blogs in which The Report has been critical of Harold:
January 12, 2015 blog in which the SCPR examines the relationship/role of Harold in the real property tax appraisal of the recently rehabbed Onesto Loffs by former Harold employer Steve Coon,
SCPR Note: The Report plans a follow up blog on what Harold has actually done on the appraisal issue,
March 18, 2013 blog in which the SCPR delves into Harold's hiring of Republican A.R. "Chip" Conde (a former Creighton as mayor administration official and candidate for mayor, 2011) as one of his top officials in the auditor's office,
All-in-all, the SCPR, by force of naming Harold #2 on The Report's Top 10 List of course is well-taken with Harold.
A particular focus of late the SCPR has been open government and ease of access on the part of Stark County's taxpaying public has been:
The auditor's office work with the Stark County Board of Elections, and
Harold's work to bring to fruition/implementation for Stark County Republican Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel's laudable work of Checkbook.com
As blogged two days ago, Stark Countians are to see realization of the project on the auditor's website come Monday, November 23rd.
The Report is also fixed on Harold's effort through relatively new hire Seth Peterson to oversee an updating/upgrading of county government's information technology template.
Yours truly has been focused on the Stark County Board of Elections and its having "the latest and greatest" technical capability of disseminating information it possesses in a easily massaged format to the Stark County public.
Here is an e-mail exchange with Peterson:
Re: IT upgrade at Stark County Board of Elections
Seth Peterson <email@example.com> Nov 18 at 3:10 PM
To: Martin Olson
We have selected a vendor for campaign finance, with a meeting scheduled for early next month to begin the detail phase of this project. Also, we are in the process of rewriting the election night code and historical data section of the website.
>>> Martin Olson <firstname.lastname@example.org> 11/17/2015 3:25 PM >>>
Please update me on developments since September 3rd.
(SCPR Note: to see/hear Peterson go to this September 4th blog LINK)
Harold has climbed on the SCPR Top 10 List in large part because of this progressive "let's improve Stark County government efficiency" attitude.
He started out as #3.
He is now at #2.
Will he ever get to #1?
Achieving such is a tall order for him.
For the SCPR sees #1 Canton mayor-elect Thomas M. Bernabei as astounding Cantonians with his seeming miracle working over the next four years and leading Canton in a turnaround that few now expect.
Such is a healthy competition for the coveted #1 ranking of the SCPR.
An interesting sidenote to this discussion is a interesting political tidbit the SCPR has come onto. The Report has learned that prior to Bernabei announcing his run as an "independent" for mayor of Canton, Alan Harold was considering making such a run as a Republican.
Of course, if he had, Bernabei would not have become an independent and it is highly likely William J. Healy, II would have been re-elected mayor of Canton.
Good Luck, though, Alan on your being positioned some day to be the SCPR's #1 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Official!
Although fellow commissioner Janet Creighton was a bit over the top in her description of the status of Thomas M. Bernabei in this video take of her comments about his successful effort as a political independent in unseating Canton Democratic incumbent mayor William J. Healy, II on November 3rd; Bernabei's having done so keeps him at the top of the SCPR "Top 10" Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials List.
It has been truly amazing to see Bernabei to take on "the powers that be" in the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party in their support of the incumbent Democratic mayor who raised and spent mega bucks to retain office and come out victorious on this past general election day.
The Report recorded two videos of comments by Democratic Canton City Council president Allen Schulman and Ward 7 Democratic councilman John Mariol this past Monday as they opine on the significance of Bernabei's win.
And as the SCPR always does, included in the videos presented herein are Schulman's/Mariol's generous (from The Report's perspective) assessments (which the SCPR does not share in an overall sense) of the work of now lame duck mayor William J. Healy, II as mayor of Canton.
Readers of The Report know that while yours truly recognizes that Healy over his eight years as mayor has had a few successes; the overall SCPR assessment in disagreement with Schulman and Mariol is that Healy has been mostly mouth and relatively little in terms of actually moving Canton out of the a decades long slide downward as a major Ohio metropolitan entity.
With Bernabei's election, the focus now turns to what he can do in terms of providing much more effective leadership that Healy was able to muster in the face of Healy having at his own hand compromised his effectiveness in the context his generating one scrape after another scrape after another scape after another all of which he survived except perhaps allegations that came in the final days of the Bernabei/Healy match up which some think may have cost him the election.
Right now for a number of observers especially Canton City Council, it is wait and see with Bernabei going forward.
But not for the SCPR.
Bernabei started out on the initial SCPR Top 10 List as the #1 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Official (LINK), continued on as #1 in the first quarterly update (LINK) and continues to be #1 in this second quarterly update.
Bernabei's bold initiative to take on the Stark County Democratic Party political establishment tells one and all in and of itself what this man is made of.
Even in the challenge of seven sitting councilpersons and the Stark Dems' chairman Phil Giavasis acting at the direction of the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee (later withdrawn in light of conflict-in-interest concerns) he came out "smelling like a rose" in terms of the regard that a number of Democratic Party testified under oath that have for Canton's former long term law director, city councilman and Healy administration service director and chief-of-staff.
There is no doubt that his biggest challenge will be to turn the heads of those council persons who abide a negative taste for him for his having challenged the party's nominee (Healy) to retain control of the mayor's office.
Already he has met with a group and perhaps the core of the "we are skeptical of Bernabei" crowd of councilpersons in the persons of Councilmen Mariol (D, Ward 7), Mack (D, Ward 8) and Morris (D, 9; also majority leader) a week ago today.
As is to be seen in the Mariol interview above, Bernabei appears to at the very least have the ear of this potential core opposition group to his taking on an executive function as mayor vis-a-vis council.
The SCPR thinks that it will be no time at all before this group and Canton City Council as whole will understand the special leadership skills that Bernabei possesses as an elected official as demonstrated in his five or so years as Stark County commissioner and will forget the talk about Canton being a "strong council form of government" implying that Bernabei is in for a rocky road in terms of his making a mark with his brand of leadership.
Being a successful mayor of a city that been in a long decline in reversing that decline in the face of a projected $3 million deficit in the first year of his administration is an undertaking unlike he has ever undertaken.
Bernabei with fellow Republican commissioner Janet Creighton, both elected in November, 2010 did foster a turnaround of the fiscal soundness of Stark County government and a concomitant trust in county government in the face of a Stark County treasury crisis that surfaced in April, 2009.
By October, 2011 the county crisis was ended and the effective Bernabei/Creighton leadership was the reason for the speedy and dramatic turnaround.
Will Bernabei be able form a partnership with Canton City Council that will result in a Canton turnaround in terms of "heading in a positive trajectory" within such a short space of time?
The Report thinks so.
But time will tell.
For his past effective service as Stark County commissioner and for his taking on the daunting task of working with a skeptical council in quest of a similar turnaround in Canton, Thomas M. Bernabei remains in this quarterly evaluation The Stark County Political Report's #1 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Official.
And he is lagging behind Washington Township (LINK).
But, Stark County auditor Alan Harold (a Republican, first elected in 2010, LINK to Stark Co. auditor website) tells the SCPR that this coming Monday, November 23, 2015 (Thanksgiving Week, no less), Stark Countians will be able to check out the Checkbook of Stark County units of government.
It probably hasn't been that long in calendar days, but it seems to The Report that Harold has been hyping the introduction of Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel's Checkbook.com forever.
Not only has Harold been a laggard, but also has been nearly all of Stark County Political Subdivision government, to wit: (a map published by Mandel's office)
As mentioned above, only Alliance and Washington Township in Stark County have been on board Mandel's train steaming towards Ohio government accountability as early adopters.
Here is a video of Harold reporting to Stark County commissioners at the regular weekly meeting of November 10th as to the status of Stark County's entry into the September, 2015 Mandel initiated accountability project:
One to wonder what is taking Stark's other 16—other than Washington Township—townships, municipalities, villages and school districts (18, including R.G. Drage) so long to get up and running with accountability to the respective Stark County constituents, no?
Citizens, who are constituents of the above-listed political subdivisions, should be badgering local officials to get off their collective duffs and follow the lead of Alliancy city officials, Washington Township officials and, indeed, Auditor Harold in equipping the them, the citizens, to monitor how these officials are spending citizen tax dollars!
B.A. - Political Science
AN INDEPENDENT MINDED POLITICAL COMMENTATOR
Until 1976 I was a Republican. Since then I have considered myself a Democrat. So after long term stints of being a Republican, then a Democrat, I have come to the political position I feel most comfortable with - being an INDEPENDENT MINDED ANALYST who demands effectiveness of our politicians - Republican, Democrat or whatever.
I have changed my political affiliation to "non-partisan" by not voting in either political party primary election.