Monday, February 9, 2009
DISCUSSION: WILL THE REAL RANDY GONZALEZ STAND UP?
It is really difficult for the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) to tell who Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez "is" in the - political sense - of "is." Remember Bill Clinton and his "It depends on what is, is" beauty? Well, in a totally different context, it is time to learn what "is" really "is."
On the one hand, he has demonstrated breath of vision in being a leading force to centralize Stark County's currently fragmented 9-1-1 emergency system. In The Report's judgment, only Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley stands on a par with Gonzalez.
The Report salutes Gonzalez for his superb work on moving 9-1-1 along to where it needs to be in order to service the emergency needs of Stark Countians with a first-rate system. Moreover, this is a model of how countywide consolidation can be achieved to provide for efficient and effective government services to Stark County's citizens.
On the other hand, Gonzalez is the "moving force" in Jackson Township to keep the township exactly the way it is. How so? He is insisting that in annexation and economic development talks (currently with Canton and formerly with North Canton) that the Jackson (whoever it turns out to be) agree not to annex in Jackson for a 99 year period of time without the prior approval of the trustees).
Although The Report understands the 99 year provision from Gonzalez' township official perspective, this is not a good move for Canton, North Canton and the rest of the county - and in the long run - even for Jackson Township itself.
The 99 year provision reeks of a desperation provincialism move that will not effectively fix the Jackson identity crisis that is now dawning on township officials. If the Canton/Jackson plan wins the day, it will tempt other Stark County townships to try the same maneuver. If enough of these agreements get in place, Stark County remains the fragmented, turf-protecting county that it has always been.
Jackson's problem is that its township government structure is not adequate to meet the needs of its citizens. Nor does it permit creation of the infrastructure that a 35,000 plus population base area needs to attract new jobs.
So what should Gonzalez do?
Let the 9-1-1 Gonzalez be a mentor to the Jackson Township Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and the Jackson trustees need to creatively think their way to a solution to Jackson's future without giving in to provincialism. The Report sees protectionist provincialism as a kind of knee-jerk reaction.
Stark County government (meaning all the political subdivisions) has too much reactionary thinking going on now. We don't need the county's largest township (indeed, one of the largest in Ohio) to be small-minded in solving its problems.
So which Gonzalez is going to win out?
The "9-1-1 Gonzalez" or the "protect my township's border for 99 years" Gonzalez?