Monday, November 29, 2010



In just a little over two months the slates will be set for whom is squaring off against whom to in the Stark County Democratic and Republican parties to run for various municipal offices in 2011.

Added political spice will come after the primary for independent/non-partisan possible candidates make their decisions not later than August 10, 2011.

Of course, the leading races will be for mayor of Canton and Miassillon in the sense of internal party competition for who will be the party standard bearer come November. 

For Canton, look for a rematch between Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler and incumbent Mayor William J. Healy, II.  Back in 2003, Healy was relatively new in town in the sense of returning from New York in taking on established Canton Democrat Smuckler.

This time around, the SCPR is told by Jimmy Babcock and his boss Kim Perez (who had been rumored to be interested in running for mayor, if he lost the auditor's race - which he did) that neither is likely to run for mayor this time around.

Looking at the list of individuals taking out petitions, it seems as Smuckler versus Healy will be only "real" choice for Canton's Democrats as to whom will come out the Democratic nominee.  The main question for November (when the winner has to face off against any independents and a Republican nominee) is how heated the Smuckler/Healy race becomes and whether or not the winner gets the support of the loser.

The same scenario is likely to play out in Massillion among Democrats as to whether long time Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. is going to be continuing on as mayor.  Right now there is a smattering of potential candidates.  One on the Democratic side, two on the Republican side; one being arch-Cicchinelli enemy Carl Oser.

But Cicchinelli worries about a Republican candidate, he will be looking for someone more politically significant that Michael Slater to take out petitions.  Likely possibilities are Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry or Municipal Court Judge Edward Elum.  It would be truly stunning, if neither took out and filed petitions as they both are thought to be in the virulently anti-anything-Cicchinelli camp.

To The Report, the most likely of the Catazaro-Perry/Elum duo is Catazaro-Perry.  It appears that the Cicchinelli administration was noting Catazaro-Perry's clout in Massillon politics in deciding not to push annexation of the Tuslaw schools.  Had Cicchinelli pushed on and lost at the hand of Catazaro-Perry led opposition in the defeat of a required ordinance for the proposed annexation to move forward, he would have risked a public perception of political vulnerability that might serve to weaken his chances of surviving a Democratic Party primary.

The SCPR hears that there could also be a Republican primary contest in North Canton.  Last time around, Mayor David Held ran without opposition.  However, in the meantime (between the November, 2009 election and the upcoming primary) he embarrassed Councilman Jeff Davies by insisting that North Canton's law director investigate alleged Davies misconduct in relationship to specified city employees.  The Report is told that Davies has not forgotten the embarrassment and would like to be mayor of North Canton.  So it will be interesting to see whether or not he decides to take Held on in May of next year.

On the city council front, there are likely to be a number of contested races, especially in Canton.

Before it is all said and done, look for a repeat in the Democratic council-at-large seats.  Bill Smuckler, of course, is not running for re-election, which leaves an opening.  The same thing happened two years ago when Don Casar decided not to receive re-election.

Political observers expect that Mary Cirelli and Joe Cole (first elected in 2009) to run for re-election.  Cirelli is as automatic as anyone gets in Canton (second only to Smuckler in 2009), but Cole may be a different picture.  Cole has been quiet as councilman and therefore he could be vulnerable to the likes of a Jimmy Babcock, especially if the field get narrowed to let's to to four or five rather than the ten who ran in 2009.

Other Canton city council races in the offing?


In 2003, Kevin Fisher upset the then Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and other party officials when he took on Ward 5 incumbent Councilman Terry Prater (not running for re-election because he as taken a job with the Stark County Board of Elections).  Fisher nearly won.  Fisher tells The Report that he has repaired his relationship with party officials and therefore he likely will not be running against the wishes of the Stark County Democratic Party this time around.  However, he may have opposition.  If elected, he says he will be doing a non-traditional thing by paying attention to Canton city government policy issues in additional to the standard - for councilpersons - servicing of constituent needs (roads, zoning issues and the like).

Ward 9 could also be the scene (once again) of a hot Democratic primary.  Frank Morris, III lost by a mere 7 votes to the now deceased Joe Carbenia.  Carbenia's precinct committeeperson choice Brian Horner already faces the prospect of opposition in 2011.

All-in-all, 2011's May primaries could present some very interesting local races.

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