Today is Democrat Todd Bosley's last meeting as a Stark County commissioner. But that was to be the case no matter what happened in his race against Republican Todd Snitchler (Ohio House 50th) this past November. As it turned out, Bosley suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Snitchler notwithstanding his extremely well financed campaign and his all out support from Statehouse Democrats.
Because of the wide-margin defeat, the question now becomes whether or not Bosley can rise from the ashes of the loss to once again be a Stark County political leader.
Bosley chose not to run for re-election as county commissioner; a seat he won in stunning fashion in 2006 against Republican Richard Regula (son of retired Congressman Ralph Regula). Years ago, as Bosley tells it, his father ran for county commissioner, but was not victorious.
Sweet it was for the Bosley family, when Todd won in 2006.
It was somewhat of a surprise when neophyte politician Bosley defeated incumbent Nimishillen Township trustee Arthur Lynch in 2003. And Bosley started off as a politician with a quality that was to follow him throughout his as a politician: being "brash." In the end, it may have been the characteristic that led to his political demise.
As a trustee, he picked a fight with then sitting trustee Russ Goffus, a fellow Democrat and therefore somewhat surprising. But it shouldn't have been. Because Bosley seems to be a politician whose style is to buy into the notion that the way to political success is get one's name into the limelight (i.e. the newspaper, on television, on blogs; whatever) and electoral success will surely follow.
Because of his early success using "in your face" tactics, Bosley appears to have bought into the notion that "bare-knuckle" political fighting is a key to political success. Probably a key reason that Richard Regula lost to Bosley is that Regula underestimated the hardball political tactics that Bosley was capable of and appears to have employed successfully against Regula.
Bosley latched onto the brokenness of Stark County's 9-1-1 central dispatching services as a key issue to pummel Regula seemingly day-after-day-after-day in his drive to be elected commissioner. Aided by Nimshillen Fire Chief Rich Peterson (who provided emergency force expertise), Bosley forged a campaign that portrayed Regula as an ineffectual commissioner in dealing with the life and death needs of Stark Countians. The result? A rather shocking Bosley victory from out of nowhere!
As commissioner, Bosley attempted to forge a coalition of niche political interest groups as his political base. He really was never accepted as a mainline Stark County Democratic Party establishment (the SCPR believes because of his "brash" style) and therefore turned to interest group coalition building as his political base.
Some of his niche groups included those that were interested in correcting perceived Stark County Dog Pound problems, Nimshillen and Louisville residents who suffered flooding problems from 100 year floods due to Stark County's inadequate ditching and drainage systems, Tuscarawas Township residents and their frustrations with Massillon Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. and his annexation ambitions as well as other Stark County mini-groupings with micro-political group interests.
His model for building a political machine of Bosley loyalists that could propel him to higher office might have worked had he not made a major miscalculation on how to go about fixing Stark County's broken 9-1-1 central dispatch.
The SCPR believes that Stark County officials became aware by the latter part of 2008 that county finances were headed for a disaster. Amid of the discussions and considerations of what to do, tt appears to The Report that Commissioner Bosley had a "brainstorm" of sorts. A brainstorm? Yes, a true "eureka" moment, if only in the mind of Bosley.
The plan: impose a 0.50 sales tax levy on Stark Countians (because they would never approve the new taxes that "quietly" included general revenue fund monies) and convince voters that their lives (in an emergency context) could possibly depend on coming up with the revenue to fix the 9-1-1 countywide dispatch. An additional part of the plan appears to have been to sell Stark County's political subdivision (townships, villages and cities) officials (townships, villages and cities) on the notion that the imposed tax would provide them with "free" dispatching services and therefore they (police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, councilpersons and the like) needed, as a matter of self-interest, to enroll in any effort to stop any anti-impose-the-tax-group(s) that may arise in opposition to the tax.
What is amazing to the SCPR is that Bosley was able to convince fellow commissioner, at the time, Tom Harmon (a very politically "close to the vest" Democratic politician) to go along with the imposed nature of the tax. All the SCPR can figure is that Harmon was and is very close to Stark County Democratic Party chair Randy Gonzalez and Gonzalez has been a huge force behind fixing 9-1-1 for about 20 years now.
Of course, Harmon had just been retained as commissioner by Stark Voters on election day, November, 2008; less than 60 days prior to his vote to impose the tax. The SCPR believes Harmon's original appointment was orchestrated by then Dem chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and other Democratic powers like Gonzalez.
Republican commissioner Jane Vignos is less of a mystery. She was not going to be running for re-election so what did she have to lose
In a true testament to citizen activist and Canton attorney Craig Conley and his fellows Charlie Snyder (now a Fairless school board member) and Bethlehem Township citizen Tom Marcelli, the "anti's" ("Vote No Increased Taxes) got themselves together and met "the plan" head-on and utterly - via the electoral process - destroyed "the plan."
In an ironical twist to the campaign on whether or not the tax should be repealed, former Bosley ally - Nimishillen Fire Chief Rich Peterson - seems to have teamed up with the "Vote No" folks in terms of providing the rationale for an alternative way (needing no new revenues) to construct an effective countywide 9-1-1 dispatch system.
In the end, the "Vote No" group was so effective in their campaign that many Stark political observers believe that Stark County will not approve even a renewal of a 0.25 sales tax that must be put on the ballot in May, 2011 or fall by the wayside entirely.
The SCPR believes that Bosley was the lead to impose the sales tax and thereby created the primary condition which puts his political future in Stark County in question.
Apparently, Bosley did not know Stark County political history on sales tax isues when he put his "can't fail" plan together. He should have contacted Richard Wingerter who serves on the Board of the Stark County Educational Service Center to get an education on the political pitfalls commissioners fall into who push sales tax increases in Stark County.
The Stark County political graveyard is full of ex-commissioners who did not understand the pride that Stark Countians in being the lowest taxed county - in terms of add on sales taxes (to the base state of Ohio rate) - in all of Ohio.
A number of Stark Countians tell the SCPR that they would have voted to retain the tax had it been only for a 9-1-1 rehab.
Would limiting the imposed tax to 9-1-1 been enough to save he tax? The SCPR thinks not and that "imposing" the tax was a political sin that would prove to be a significant factor in Bosley's political undoing.
However, leading the "imposed" sales tax effort was not the only reason that Bosley lost in such a resounding way to Snitchler.
Two other factors played in to ensure Bosley's overwhelming defeat.
One was the temperament of Bosley's campaign.
Bosley's handlers, in the opinion of the SCPR, gave Bosley some bad, bad advice. They talked Bosley into equating Snitchler to being a rat for his support of a bill that would, over time, eliminate Ohio's income tax and thereby jeopardize - according to the Bosley campaign - the jobs of thousands upon thousands of public jobs (e.g. school teachers). Moreover, the Bosley forces tried to make out that Snitchler by virtue of the way he voted on various bills was somehow in favor of allowing those with criminal record backgrounds including some involving sexual offenses to drive school buses. Of course, very few believed that Snitchler was in favor of sudden wholesale elimination of public jobs, and, no one believed that Snitchler wanted to put those with criminal records behind the wheel of a school bus.
Bosley desperately tried to disassociate himself from his Columbus-based handlers, but voters were not buying. Given Bosley's history of playing "hardball" politics, The Report is skeptical that Bosley was not buying into the Columbus generated game plan. Moreover, there is a public perception that a candidate "at the end of he day" owns the tactics and strategies of his/her campaign and it does not seem to work to disassociate.
The other was the Republican tidal wave which swept Stark County, Ohio and the nation.
Moreover, it likely politically hurt Democrat Bosley, being a county commissioner, that the former Stark treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci was convicted of stealing $2.46 million (with federal Judge John Adams saying he thought it was more like $2.96 million) in September, 2010; about two months before the election. The treasury through August 23, 2010 was headed by Democrat Treasurer Gary Zeigler who was not implicated in the Frustaci matter. Some Stark Countians, The Report believes unfairly, held it against the commissioners (Bosley and Meeks [defeated in his bid for election as commissioner]) for not doing more to push along more quickly a resolution of the Frustaci matter which first surfaced in April, 2009.
At the end of this blog, the question persists: will Bosley make a political comeback in Stark County?
Will he, like the mythological Phoenix, rise from the political ashes to be reborn as a Stark County political figure?
The Report's guess-estimate; not likely. He has no discernible political base and, moreover, has never been a favorite of the Stark County Democratic Party political organization.
If Bosley's political resurrection is to take place, it will truly take a divinely appointed miracle!