Saturday, September 25, 2010
(VIDEO INCLUDED) MASSILLION MAYOR FRANCIS H. CICCHINELLI, JR IS ONE STEP AHEAD OF HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS? HE KNOWS THAT IT IS NOT WISE TO TAKE ON HIGHLY MOTIVATED CITIZENS, EVEN ONES NOT ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN HIS UPCOMING ELECTION.
It appears that Massillon City Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry was about to deliver a political blow to Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr.
But not on your "political life," if you are Cicchinelli.
A fixture in Massillon politics since the 1980s, the tigerland mayor has been in many political fights and novices like Catazaro-Perry are at a real disadvantage when it comes to political infighting with Mayor Cicchinelli.
Of course, she does have the politically sophisticated Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (Massillon clerk of courts and former chair of the Stark County Democratic Party) in her corner as well as Massillon Municipal Court Judge Eddie Elum and Stark County Democratic Party Political Director Shane Jackson (Maier's chief deputy).
In the judgment of the Stark County Political Report, none of the three are much of a political match for Cicchinelli. Sources (including Mayor Cicchinelli himself) tell the SCPR that for years Catazaro-Perry (KCP-Forces), Maier, Elum and Jackson have been working to oust Cicchinelli from being THE political power in Massillon.
A crucial, and probably the last political battle for Cicchinelli, will be fought between the mayor and the KCP Forces next May in the Democratic Party primary. Mayor Cicchinelli is running for re-election and political observers speculate the either Catazaro-Perry or Judge Elum will be his opponent.
One of the ways that Massillon has been surviving economically/financially in these times is through a Cicchinelli-led drive of aggressive annexation.
In announcing his bid for re-election back in June, Mayor Cicchinelli cited unfinished business in the realm of annexation as a prime motivator for his running again.
Recently, he has caused an outcry from nearby townships (Perry and Tusarawas) for his annexation of the R.G. Drage educational facility in Perry and the Poets Glen development in Tuscarawas Township.
Massillon Council supported the Drage and Poets Glen annexations, but all of a sudden things changed when it came to the current effort to annex Bit-o-Eden mobile home park and the adjoining Tuslaw schools.
It's not Bit-o-Eden that has many Tuscarawas Township residents in a rage. It was the attempt to annex the schools.
The Cicchinelli annexation attack of their schools got activist township residents in a "we are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore" modality.
And have they gotten organized!
So much so that the SCPR believe that the KCP-Forces saw an opportunity to gain allies in their effort to remove Cicchinelli as mayor of Massillon next May.
Obviously, Tuscarawas Township residents do not vote in the Massillon mayor's race, but nothing keeps them from campaigning for Catazaro-Perry, Elum or any other person who should decide to challenge Cicchinelli in next year's Democratic primary.
This is where Frank Cicchinelli's political wisdom comes into play.
In backing down from his plan to annex the Tuslaw schools (see The Independent Matt Rink's terrific piece: Massillon mayor drops plan to annex Tuslaw property, September 24, 2010), Cicchinelli demonstrates once again that he is one step ahead of the KCP-Forces.
It is one thing to run against another political power machine much like his own, but to have to run against highly motivated citizens (even non-Massillonians) is quite another. This has to be his thinking in this political day and age when motivated citizens are showing more and more that they can organize and be quite politically effective.
The SCPR believes that Thursday's move by Cicchinelli was a stroke of political genius by the mayor.
In dropping the Tuslaw annextion he took a lot of the wind out the KCP Forces effort. However, he is still in for the fight of his political life next May.
But - Mayor Cicchinelli is a political survivor.
Here is a video of Mayor Cicchinelli that the SCPR took on September 7, 2010 (the Stark County Democratic Party selection of a candidate for county treasurer event) in which he talks about the Tuslaw annexation issue.