From what the SCPR is assessing and hearing about the upcoming Canton City Council (Council) races, the city may be about to experience a major shift in the role that Council has been playing in city government.
Up to now The Report believes that William J. Healy, II has been able to dominate Canton's government by more or less playing a divide and conquer game with what appears to be a somewhat of a Smuckler, Cirelli and Hawk (with lone Republican Mark Butterworth lurking in the background) faction in Council against the rest of Council.
Despite the Smuckler led opposition on various issues, Healy has been able to pretty much get his way with Council.
However, that may be about to change with the November elections.
Out for sure will be Smuckler (who ran against Healy for mayor in the May Democratic Primary), 5th Ward Councilman Terry Prater (who got a Stark County Democratic Party political appointment to a job at the Stark County Board of Elections) and 9th Ward Councilman Brian Horner who decided not to run for reelection.
Out maybe could be 8th Ward Councilman Mark Butterworth, Councilman Joe Cole (whom the SCPR projects as possibly losing his at-large seat to former Councilwoman Rosemary Diamond.
Republican Butterworth has been a disappointment to many, including the SCPR, in his laid-back manner who appears to get intimidated rather easily either by the Council process, in general, various councilpersons and/or the Healy administration. Democrats have fielded a strong candidate in Attorney Edmond Mack.
Butterworth narrowly defeated Democrat (the then incumbent) Karl "Butch" Kraus two years ago. The Report believes that Mack is a stronger candidate than Kraus and is likely to oust Butterworth this time around mainly because Butterworth has not been able to make a name for himself as a innovative force on Council. His try at interesting Council to give Canton voters an opportunity to restructure Canton government into a charter form of government got squashed quickly by the work of Councilman Tom West (chairman of Judiciary) in combo with the Healy administration.
Joe Cole is another incumbent councilman who has been less than inspiring. Look for Cole to trail veteran Councilwoman Mary Cirelli and the son of former Canton mayor Charles Babcock and his widow (now deceased herself) Mary (a long term and councilwoman in her own right), Jimmy Babcock, and thereby possibly providing an opportunity for Republican Rosemary Diamond to slip in as replacement for Cole.
Accordingly, the SCPR projects that Canton Council could (and will, the cases of Fisher and Morris) have the following new faces come January 1, 2013.
If the SCPR is correct or even partially correct by the questionable additions of Diamond, Babcock and Mack to the automatics (Fisher and Morris), the question becomes: what will the changes bring to the balance of Council and the balance of power between Council and the Healy administration.
The SCPR projects that Councilpersons Fisher, Morris and Mack will comprise a energized "young turks" faction on Council which will force the rest of Council to become more vigorous in assuming a more dynamic role in fashioning and directing Canton's future.
Fisher, in particular, seems to the SCPR has the potential to devise creative legislation that is likely to draw scores of more Cantonians into participating with Council and the Healy administration in the ongoing effort to restore Canton to some semblance of her former self.
Morris appears to The Report to have the grit to resist the powers that be on Council and, of course, the Healy administration, when appropriate and necessary to work with other innovators to get Canton steered on a productive course.
Mack, if elected, has already shown that he has a desire to be an idea man (i.e. his proposal to accelerate the demolition of vacant buildings) who is likely to turn heads as a freshman councilperson.
The SCPR can see the potential development of a Fisher, Morris, Mack, Cirelli, Hawk and Diamond lose coalition on some important legislative initiatives to make things very interesting on Council.
Such a development could put Council President Allen Schulman on the spot. For he is the tie breaker vote on Council.
Of all the possible newcomers, only Jimmy Babcock is an automatic for the Healy administration.
The 2011 Canton Council elections could be the most important ever in the modern era of Canton politics and government.