Stark County Chief Deputy Mike McDonald has taken out a petition to run for sheriff of Stark County.
Clearly, this means that Sheriff Swanson is not running for re-election.
His action is both a surprise and yet not so much of a surprise. A surprise in that McDonald is not sitting Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson's first choice as a successor. That would be Swanson other chief deputy Rick Perez. When Perez hosted his classmates for a tour of the Stark County jail conducted by Sheriff Swanson about a year ago, Swanson let it be known to the group that classmate Perez was his choice to succeed him.
However, that was before the November, 2010 election and Rick's brother Kim (Stark County auditor) getting trounced at the polls by Republican candidate Alan Harold. Brother Kim's defeat can be traced directly to the Vince Frustaci scandal in which the former chief deputy was convicted of stealing money from the Stark County treasury.
While Kim had absolutely nothing to do with the theft (and the same is to be said for then Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler), it appears that Stark County voters lumped Democrat officeholders together as "political good old boys" who did not mind the store in accordance with voter standards (voters apparently thinking - rightly or wrongly - that there needed to be more oversight) and sent Kim Perez packing. Zeigler was removed from office in August, 2010 in accordance with permissive Ohio statutory law that empowered county commissioners to remove him from office notwithstanding that he had been exonerated by federal and county prosecutors of any involvement whatsoever. Zeigler has appealed his dismissal and a decision should be forthcoming any day from the Ohio Supreme Court as to whether his removal will be sustained.
Should choose to run, Sheriff Swanson (who wrote letters to the editor supporting Zeigler during his days as treasurer) undoubtedly would lose.
But does that seeming political reality extend to those closely connected with Swanson?
The Report believes it does.
Neither McDonald or Perez is electable in the opinion of the SCPR.
But it is - in a sense - not s surprise that McDonald took out a petition. You can bet the Swanson et al are working overtime trying to figure out a way to stay in power. One scenario has Canton Safety Director Thomas Ream stepping in to run if it appears that he can save the day for the Swanson, Perez and McDonald legacy.
The last time Stark Republicans had a chance to take control of the Stark County sheriff's office was when in 1980 long time Sheriff George Pappadoopuouls ran into political trouble. Republican insurance man Robert Berens ran against the politically troubled sheriff and defeated him.
Problem was for Republicans that the challenges of office proved to be more than Berens could bear and he ended up being a one-termer.
First, and the most likely to win the nomination, is Hartville Chief of Police Larry Dordea (a former Alliance police chief and currently a councilman-at-large in Alliance who is seeking re-election). Dordea
A mention is made of Republican Canal Fulton Mayor John Grogan who is a lieutenant in the Summit County Sheriff Department. Unless Dordea decides not to run, Grogan deserves no more than a mention. He has been involved in a couple of controversies (one as a Summit County sheriff's employee and another a mayor of Canal Fulton - both of which he was cleared on) which, were he the Republican nominee, would certainly surface in the heat of a political campaign.
Dordea tells The Report that he is confident that he will be the party nominee should he seek the nomination. Dordea ran against Swanson in 2008 and made a respectable showing for his first time out on the political hustings. This time around The Report figures Dordea to be the odds on favorite win no matter who runs for the Democrats.
Should the Republicans succeed this time in dislodging the Democratic Party stranglehold over the sheriff's department, chances are that a Republican takeover will last for over four years.
Because, unlike Berens (the insurance man turned sheriff ), - referred to above - Dordea is a highly respected policeman who served many years (including a number as chief) in Alliance before becoming police chief in Hartville.
Democrats must know that should they lose this office and the winning candidate is Dordea, then it could be a long, long time before they can win it back.
So look for a hotly contested race, if Dordea is the nominee. Even if he isn't, the Democrats will not have an easy time retaining the seat in light of the disfavor that Stark Countians are seeing Democrats running countywide these days.
Stark Countians - if the March primary election date holds - will know by early December who will be running to replace Swanson.