It took awhile but it wasn't long before the gloves came off and incumbent Mayor William J. Healy, II and challenger Bill Smuckler took barbs in hand and started throwing them at each other on WHBC-1480 Points to Ponder "special" primary election Democratic mayoral debate held at Taggarts: Canton's famed ice cream eatery located on Fulton Road.
For nearly two hours these old foes battled over the right to run against Republican Janet Creighton in 2003. Smuckler won the 2003 Democratic primary. Can he repeat the feat this election year?
At first it appeared that Healy was going to take the high road and that Smuckler would be a solo attacker.
However, by the end of the debate Healy was off his lofty perch and hurling political barb for barb in return to the barbs Smuckler started with, persisted with and ended with.
All-in-all, the SCPR's take on the debate overall is that Smuckler was more the aggressor than Healy.
Because the debate was a long one, The Report is breaking the publication down into a series of blogs so that SCPR readers can get absorb it in digestible segments.
In this first blog, Candidate Smuckler opens (there were a few technical glitches in his opening presentation) making the following charges - some by implication; some direct - on the Healy administration:
- that the changes he promised in his successful 2007 campaign against incumbent Republican Mayor Janet Creighton have not been properly implement,
- that Mayor Healy does not have good working relationships with other Stark County-based elected officials and accuses him of building walls,
- that the administration is jeopardizing the safety of Cantonians in not providing for 24/7 ambulance service and in allowing the police department to be understaffed,
- that Healy has taken care of his staff needs over the staff needs of Canton's police in how he has configured Canton's "unbalanced" budget, and
- that the Healy administration has "robbed Peter to pay Paul" in taking capital improvement monies and putting it into operations thereby causing a situation that Canton cannot fill chuck holes, maintain buildings and maintain vehicles.
- reducing crime by way of its "zero tolerance" policy for three straight years for a total 33% reduction,
- pushing for and through supporting (e.g. Mayor's scholarship program) Canton schools achieving an improvement of public education as shown by a dramatic increase in high school graduation rates,
- improving Canton's neighborhoods in demolishing over 500 dilapidated, boarded-up homes, and
- creating hundreds of new jobs for Canton.