Sunday, November 14, 2010


Stark Countians have made their choice and voters have elected two strong leaders as commissioner.  And strong leadership is exactly what Stark County needs during these days of county financial crisis.
Both Creighton and Bernabei have experience amidst difficulties.  

The SCPR believes that Canton was already a city on the slide when Creighton became mayor in 2004. Even though she had a Democratic Canton City Council to work with she did so and in fine fashion.  Legislative Democrats have told The Report over and over again how much easier it was for them to work with Creighton in a cooperative vein than with Mayor Healy.  However, Creighton, a mayor, had her own agenda which she forcefully and effectively pursued.

Even though he likes to trumpet having graduated from the New York University Stern School of Business, current Canton mayor Jamie Healy did not have brains enough to keep Tom Bernabei in his administration.  Had he done so, Canton, likely, would be in better fiscal shape than it is now.  Though methodical and even-tempered, Bernabei has strong viewpoints which cost him his job in the Healy administration.

As commissioner, the SCPR believes that Bernabei and Creighton will continue to be strong-willed leaders.  Generally, they should get along.  However, there will be issues that they will see the solution differently and thereby will be at loggerheads.

This is where Commissioner Pete Ferguson comes in.

In a Bernabei/Creighton stalemate, on whose side will he come down on?

The easy analysis would be to conclude that, of course, Ferguson the Democrat will side with Bernabei the Democrat whom he has known, not that well - according to Ferguson, going back to Bernabei's days as a Canton law director.

Ferguson has known Creighton going back 35 years.  And, he has known her better than Bernabei.

He likes and respects both of them.

The SCPR put the question of how he will decide when Creighton and Bernabei disagree to Ferguson after last Wednesday's commissioners' meeting.  Ferguson said that sharing political party identity would not be any factor.  Rather, he said, he will consider the merit of each side's argument and go where the facts and the merit of their respective argument take him.

Ferguson's answer was predictable.

Let's take a "real issue" and put it in speculative context to see how a possible Creighton/Bernabei difference might play out with Pete Ferguson who could turn out to be Stark County's version of the "decider-in-chief" (a la George Bush).

What issue?

How about the 9-1-1 funding issue.

The SCPR believes that enormous pressure will be brought on commissioners, once again, to reallocate the $2.75 million sitting in county coffers (collected from the Bosley, Harmon, and Vignos imposed 0.50 sales tax, later rejected by Stark County voters) designated for use in rehabbing 9-1-1 call receiving and dispatch to public safety forces.


Yes, reallocation.

Sheriff Swanson has recently announced he is laying off 41 deputies.  And stirrings are already afoot to negate Commissioner Bosley's and Stark County Council on Governments Governance Committee chair Randy Gonzalez (also Jackson Township fiscal officer) insistence that the $2.75 million remain dedicated to a 9-1-1 fix.

Let's assume for the sake of putting Pete Ferguson on the spot that Bernabei and Creighton take opposite points of view (for whatever reasons they have); leaving it to Ferguson to be the decider.

What will Pete do?

There are compelling arguments on both sides of the issue.  So Ferguson's model for deciding pretty much goes out the window.  

So the answer will lie in Ferguson's judgment of where most of the people of Stark County are on the issue.  Right now, based on The Report's conversation with Ferguson last Wednesday, it appears that Ferguson plans on running for re-election in 2012.  If he runs, he says, it will be his final term.  But, unless Stark County is in total financial chaos in 2012 - which is highly possible in the opinion of the SCPR, The Report believes Ferguson's eye is toward running again.

The SCPR believes that if put in the position of deciding, Ferguson will find a reason to reallocate.

Public safety is the Stark County public's highest priority and having deputy sheriffs out on patrol will trump (in the court of public opinion) repairing 9-1-1.

What person running for public office would want to fly into the face of voters?

Just ask Commissioner Todd Bosley about that!

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