Tuesday, February 8, 2011
COMMISSIONER JANET CREIGHTON: STARK COUNTY'S "MODEL" POLITICIAN?
Last evening the SCPR traveled to Massillon to take in the Massillon City Council meeting.
One of the rewarding things about doing is a blog is the political serendips that one encounters in the course of covering rough and tumble Stark County politics and government.
In the course of setting up to cover the meeting, yours truly had the pleasure of engaging Clerk of Council Mary Beth Bailey in conversation. The SCPR makes a point of getting trying to get to know public officials in their totality; not just in a sound bite fashion.
In the course of conversation with Bailey, The Report learned she once worked for Janet Creighton as auditor. "Oh, [from The Report] you must be a Republican." "No," she responded "I'm a Democrat" and then she went on to describe how she was hired into the auditor's office by Creighton notwithstanding her Democratic Party credentials.
Bailey described in detail the non-partisan way in which she was treated and the attention that Creighton pays to her employees and how so very much Janet Creighton is 24/7 the genuine, caring person she seems to be.
In 2003 an opportunity opened up for Baily to, perhaps, become clerk to the Massillon City Council. Naturally, she would need recommendations. While Bailey is confident that Creighton did not want to lose her, she was overwhelmed by the smashing recommendation that Creighton gave her.
Get this: a Republican enthusiastically recommending a Democrat to an almost exclusive Democratic controlled unit of government! Wow!
But what good would such a recommendation do?
Plenty of good.
Creighton, though a passionate Republican [she served in the Bush administration], is respected by most Democrat leaders.
Bailey was very effusive of Creighton in our talk last night. An interesting aside, is how unkind a couple of Massillon Democrat leaders have been to Bailey, to wit: Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry and former Councilman Chuck Maier [brother of Massillon clerk of courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party]. Both [the only councilpersons to do so] have voted against her reappointment in the past and for no good reason.
No surprise here to the SCPR. In the experience of yours truly, the former chairman is consummately political and the fact that Bailey worked for a Republican for years [1996 - 2003] would, The Report believes, put her on a "suspected 'party disloyal' list" and, Maier political protege Catazaro-Perry and, of course, brother Chuck, would be likely candidates to plant seeds of discontent.
Bailey has to secure the re-appointment as clerk of council every time Council turns over. So at the organizational meeting for 2012 and a new Council coming onboard, she will have to reapply.
The good thing for Massillon is that Maier devotees on Council (Catazaro-Perry, Anderson and Townsend) number only three out of nine regularly voting members (Council President Glenn Gamber votes only in the case of a tie).
But the election of 2011 could dramatically change things.
Maier and friends have launched an all out political assault on the Cicchinelli administration with the candidacy of Catazaro-Perry and in fielding candidates in hopes of tilting the balance of power his way.
Of course, Cicchinelli is not sitting idly by. It is clearly going to be an election of political fire versus political fire.
Cicchinelli has left himself more vulnerable than he would have to be. Because he has been a been a political/governmental fixture for decades, he has to fight the fatigue factor with voters. And that in and of itself can cause a political loss. No real reason not to re-elect, but "its time to move on" many voters begin to think - the longer someone has been in office.
The SCPR believes that Cicchinelli has given the Maier-forces a new issue by presenting what many including the SCPR believes to be a faux budget. The Report described the budget to the Mayor in a recent conversation as "creative budgeting."
Moreover, there is the golf course issue and the Parks and Recreation Board controversy (the use of revenues) as "to boot issues" that will be used extensively against Cicchinelli. Neither should have happened and the Mayor only has himself to blame.
While Cicchinelli has his faults, the SCPR believes that Massillonians will long for the days of the Cicchinelli administration, should Catazaro-Perry be elected mayor and a majority of pro-Maiers get elected to Massillon City Council.
So all the fighting and squabbling in Massillon is quite a contrast to how Republican Janet Creighton handles herself in her public responsibilities.
From what the SCPR sees of her work as commissioner so far, it appears that she is the most exacting and demanding of the three. However, one can see the affection that those she deals with have for her and her ways of running government.
More than any other Stark County elected official, "she is" as Mary Beth Bailey says: "who she is." And as far as the Stark County Political Report is concerned, Janet Creighton is a politically passionate partisan who knows how to and does treat people fairly and with dignity. She is a model of how partisans should handle themselves.
The Report knows some politicos in Massillon who should be taking note!