Friday, June 24, 2011


The more appealing part of the Ohio Supreme Court opinion on whether or not Gary D. Zeigler should be restored as treasurer of Stark County was not the majority opinion, but rather the dissenting opinion - if you are sitting Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

The majority (5 - 2) voted to restore Zeigler.  The dissent would have ruled otherwise, the reasoning - in part - (very practical reasoning the SCPR thinks), to wit:

Justice Pfeifer says:  "[t]he world has moved on."  Indeed, it has in Stark County.

Now that the majority has spoken, Stark County will likely sink into political chaos. 

It appears that Treasurer Zumbar has not given up hope that some how, some way, Zeigler will hit one snag or another so that he cannot re-assume office.

He talked to the SCPR about:
  • Zeigler's bondability,
  • Zeigler's certifiability (in terms of having kept up with his continuing education requirements), and
  • the insurability of the office with Zeigler at the helm.
The Report believes that Zeigler will find a way to surmount these barriers, if indeed, they are problematical.

Assuming that Gary Zeigler will once again be Stark County treasurer in a matter of weeks, it is time to assess the political consequences of his resurrection.

First, a number of Stark Countians are saying the the commissioners' move to place a 0.5% sales tax on November's ballot is DOA.  If that is so, then being a county official come 2012 is going to be excruciating.  The political infighting for what dollars are remain ($36 million in 2012, $33 million in 2013) will be ferocious.  And, criminal justice will have to take a much bigger hit than it did this year (sheriff - 41 laid off; prosecutor 11 laid off).  This could pit Stark's Common Pleas Court judges against the commissioners (a conflict which neither, obviously, wants).  The judges have the power to order general fund monies for criminal justice purposes.  But can they order "blood from a turnip?"

Second, Zeigler's term is up for re-election in March or May of 2012 (the primary) and, of course, in November. 
  • Question:  will the Democrats choose to put up an opponent (let's say former interim Treasurer Ken Koher) should Zeigler run for re-election (which The Report thinks is highly likely)?
  • Likely answer:  Yes.  Gary Zeigler cannot get elected the proverbial "dog catcher" in Stark County and the Democrats do have a viable candidate in Ken Koher to rematch with Republican.  Unless the Dems want to throw in the towel, the will try to talk Koher in giving it another try against Zumbar.

Alex Zumbar tells The Report that he is definitely running to retain his office.  Of course, whether or not Zeigler got restored to office, the Zumbar/Koher 2010 race was for Zeigler's unexpired term.  Accordingly, Zumbar would be running anyway to retain office.

Third, Zeigler being in office (1:  if he decides not to run for re-election or 2:  if he loses in the Democratic primary or 3:  should the Dems not contest him in the primary) is likely (1:), probable (2:), and certain (3:) to spill over onto the Stark prosecutor office and sheriff contests. 

The prosecutor because there are some Stark Countians who think Ferrero's office has not effectively handled what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley (a Republican) terms "Zeiglergate," and the sheriff because Sheriff Swanson has been a close political confidant of Zeigler.  While Swanson himself appears not to be running, his long time Chief Deputy Mike McDonald is and - deserved or not - Swanson's endorsement will bring with it Swanson's political baggage.

Finally, what, if any, consequences will be visited on Commissioner Pete Ferguson and Tom Bernabei (Democrats) who are up for election in 2012?  If the levy fails (remember, many think a levy defeat is assured with the return of Zeigler to office), they will know the horror that awaits them in 2013 and beyond being without sufficient money to fund the basic operations of the county and The Report believes they will opt out of running for re-election.

The Supreme Court 's decision was not good for either party, but it was far worse for the Democrats than for the Republicans.

Come January 1, 2013 Stark's countywide offices will be controlled by Republicans.  It is just a question of the degree to which they controll. 

All but two commissioner posts, the coroner and the engineer?

All but the coroner and engineer?

Tis a puzzlement!

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