Sunday, November 1, 2009


Having lived in Lake Township since 1975, yours truly knows all the local leaders pretty well, Republicans and Democrats.


Are there any?

Not many!

So the political fights in Lake Township are always "within the Republican family."

There is a doozy of a Republican fight going on in this election cycle to determine which Republicans (out of four running) will lead the township.

Four years ago Ellis Erb (a local contractor and Republican political activist) and Galen Stoll (brother of a long time Hartville mayor) ran as a tandem to go in and "clean up" a mess they claim was the work of former (now deceased) trustee Sue Ruley (also a Republican) and staunch, staunch Republican Don Myers.

One of their chief targets was cutting off what they said was a "cash cow" for township legal counsel Dave Herbert (himself a Stark County Republican Party power going back to the days that Dave Dowd/Jim Unger were Stark county prosecutors).

And Erb and Stoll made good on their promise.

But now they are the target of allegations of mischief by long time Lake Republican activist Jeff Heimbaugh (he ran against Phil Giavasis for Canton Municipal clerk of courts just last year)

He is joined by Melissa Link with her own set of grievances against the Erb/Stoll dominated Lake Board of Trustees.

And the Stark GOP has weighed-in on behalf of Link and Heimbaugh as evidenced by their endorsement on the Stark GOP website TO THE EXCLUSION of Erb and Stoll, to wit:

Candidate Heimbaugh.

What does Republican Heimbaugh have to say about fellow Republicans Erb and Stoll?

Charge 1 (in bold type)/support for charge:
  • "Financial shenanigans.  Remember when the Trustees refused to pay the unused vacation time for a former employee.  A press release was issued stating the township '…did not incur additional legal fees..'. "  
  •  Wrong, the township violated the contract and was ordered to pay $15,806.86 in legal fees to the Union ’s attorney.  They then buried this information from the public by approving the payment under “bills as of April”.  Should a $15,000 judgment be treated the same as a utility bill?
 Charge 2:
  • The townships failure to retain fees from ambulance billing is now under review by the State Auditor’s Special Investigative Unit.
Charge 3:
  • Lake Township taxpayers fund the Hartville Fire Department to the tune of $528,000 compared to the Village’s contribution of $417,000.  Fair?   
SCPR Note:  (Heimbaugh serves as an official for the Uniontown Fire Department)

Charge 4 (in bold type)/support for charge:
  • Did the Trustees review the Uniontown Police Department’s budget before asking the voters to approve additional funds?    (SCPR Note:  obviously, the implication is that they did not)
  • The levy increased the police department’s budget a stunning 65%.  The UPD now collects $1.4 for 7 full-time policemen.  A look at Plain Township ’s website show they spend $1.4 million for 20 full time deputies.  
Charge 5:
  • The trustees have set aside $1.3 million for a new township hall that will house 5 full-time employees.  That equals $260,000 per office. 
Now onto candidate Melissa Link.

By the way, Link works for the Stark County Board of Elections which prompts the SCPR to believe she is the recipient of political patronage at the hand of Deputy Director and Stark Republican chair Jeff Matthews.

Here is what Link as to say:
  • We need to create an open-information climate. Currently, township meeting agendas are full of abbreviations and meeting minutes contain more information than was stated at township meetings. Little if any information is ever provided about meetings attended by our trustees (Ohio Township Association, Regional Planning, etc.)
  • Our leaders need to pursue partnerships to maximize our tax dollars and improve services and the quality of life here.
  • Our leaders also need to value the service of township employees. I do not believe that residents would agree with their rewarding an employee with over a decade of service by showing him the door.
SCPR Note:  Yours truly believes the employee that Link is referring to is recently resigned Road Department Superintendent Rick Criss who The Report believes was an ally of former Trustee Ruley.  His association with Ruley was not a good thing for him in the eyes of Erb and Stoll (see Erb/Stoll/Ruley flap above).

And finally from Link:
  • When the township has “Reserve Funds”, why are we eliminating needed full time employees?
The SCPR does not think Erb is vulnerable in the race.

Stoll, because he is a "lesser known" could be.  Especially with a well-known community (Uniontown-based) figure Jeff  Heimbaugh running.

One can admire Heimbaugh's honesty in questioning the need for additional finances of the Uniontown Police Department.  But to do so in this election could take away any chance he might have had to come in second to Erb in a race where four candidates are seeking two places.

Heimbaugh, being from Uniontown and being an official at the Uniontown Fire Department) could have worked a Uniontown versus Hartville (Stoll's political base) election framework to his advantage.

But his attack on the Erb and Stoll on the Uniontown Police Department "need for additional financing (i.e. the levy passed within current Erb/Stoll term) is sure to erase any Uniontown advantage he might have been able to muster.

Could Melissa Link sneak into second place?


It appears that she is a new "political darling" of the Stark GOP and obviously Matthews is trying to help her make the grade.

November 3rd might be an interesting election night in Lake Township!

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