Canton has been in the doldrums for a very long time now.
Just as the long term one-party-rule by Republicans up until Strickland's election (2006) and the takeover of the Ohio House by Democrats (2008) set Ohio behind, so has Canton been severely hurt, in large part, by one-party-Democratic-rule.
The SCPR has been chiding the Stark County Republican Party to come up with some new, energetic and creative leadership for the Hall of Fame city.
It could be that 8th Ward Councilman Mark Butterworth is the beginning of a new wave of leadership (both Republican and Democrat, and perhaps, an independent or two) that will ultimately lead a Canton resurgence.
While the SCPR does not think in the public interest effective government comes from the structure of government, but from the quality of the officials who staff government; the move to charter government in Canton could be the impetus to attract new and invigorated leadership to Canton.
Micheal Cunnington deserves credit for getting the idea rolling in Canton. However, because of what The Report perceives his highly partisan bent; he does not appear to be the person to lead a charter government movement.
Mark Butterworth however does.
He is a solid Republican. Make no mistake about that. But standing for something is fine as long as the bias doesn't get in the way of the public interest. The SCPR's take on Butterworth is that he is first and foremost about pursuing the public interest.
Butterworth has a tough way to go. If he were consummately political, he would not have stepped forward with his initiative to have Canton City Council place a charter government initiative on the November, 2010 ballot. Why not?
He was only elected by14 votes in November, 2009 over two term incumbent Democrat Karl "Butch" Kraus, Jr., who is a union favorite and who is likely to run again in November, 2011.
But Councilman Butterworth is not built that way. He demonstrates to The Report that he is a take charge kind of guy, while sensitive to political realities, and is about formulating a positive agenda for the betterment of Canton.
The Report would like to see Butterworth re-submit his request with a Democrat as a co-sponsor. But doing so could cause a problem with the timeline for getting the initiative on the ballot.
This eight-ward councilman is optimistic that his charter initiative will make it to the ballot. He feels he has four votes and that at least four (8 of 12 council votes are needed) persuadable councilpersons remain.
He emphasizes that November's vote is limited to two considerations. First, shall Canton go about drafting a charter for approval by Canton voters. Second, if a charter is to be drafted, who (vote for 15) is to staff the writing of the charter document to be submitted for voter approval within one year.
The main criticism of the effort is that the same old tire politicians will write the charter document.
No elected official can be a candidate for the charter commission.
Butterworth did have a meeting with Councilman Thomas West who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee last night. West told Butterworth that he wanted to ensure that all of Council was fully informed about the impact of a charter, if passed by Canton voters.
Law Director Joe Martuccio has also been approached by Butterworth to aid him in putting together a presentation to meet West's concerns.
It could be that the question of whether or not Canton forms a charter commission will come up on November's ballot whereas the question of who shall serve on the commission itself, presupposing a November go ahead, would be on the May, 2011 ballot.
Moreover, there is a consideration that 9 of the commissioner slots would go one each to the wards with the remaining 6 being elected at-large.
Again, the SCPR applauds Butterworth for his initiative and for being a political risk taker. He has all the traits that good political leaders demonstrate.
Who knows? Mark Butterworth could be a future mayor of Canton in the making.