LIST OF VIDEOS:
- CONDE CLOSING STATEMENT (BLASTING HEALY FOR BEING EXCESSIVELY POLITICAL)
- CANDIDATE OPENING STATEMENTS
- CANDIDATES ON SPENDING PRIORITIES OF HEALY ADMINISTRATION
- THE POLITICAL HEROS OF THE CANDIDATES
- CANDIDATE VIEWS ON CANTON'S APPROACH IN DEALING WITH CRIME
- CANDIDATE TAKES ON THE EFFORT TO BRING JOBS TO CANTON
- STATE ISSUE #2 (COLLECTIVE BARGAINING): CANDIDATE POSITIONS
- ISSUE #29 (STARK CO SALES TAX INCREASE): CANDIDATE POSITIONS
- CANTON SCHOOLS 7.9 MILL LEVY: CANDIDATE POSITIONS
- QUALITY OF MAYOR HEALY'S DECISIONS
- ON TEARING DOWN VACANT BUILDINGS
- TAPPING INTO THE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME AS A CANTON ASSET
- HEALY, MILLER AND HART CLOSING STATEMENTS
It was - well - sort of an opponent "tag-team" match last night at the co-sponsored NewsTalk 1480 WHBC and Repository debate at the Palace Theater featuring the candidates running for mayor of Canton.
But, as Republican A.R. "Chip" Conde said in his closing remarks, independent challengers John Miller and Richard Hart realistically have not been nor did they become as a consequence of the debate serious contenders to replace William J. Healy, II as mayor of Canton.
Conde is a serious threat, but even he showed last night that he is at a marked disadvantage in running against Stark County's most consummate politician. As Conde and Miller tellingly pointed out, Healy has used and continues to use actually being mayor of Canton to his fullest political advantage in his drive to retain office for four more years.
So if anyone was going to get some political body slams on Healy, it was going to have to be Conde.
In the judgment of yours truly, Conde failed to deliver and, barring a miracle, believes that Healy will coast to re-election victory on November 8th.
The SCPR has been, perhaps, Healy's severest critic since coming online in March, 2008 about three and one-half months into Healy having been elected over Conde chief supporter Mayor Janet Creighton November, 2007.
Ever since Healy lost (unbelievably?) to Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler in the 2003 Democratic Primary, Healy has perhaps become - at least within the confines of Canton proper - the Stark Dems' best politician.
A mere 140 votes out of 7,852 cast and Healy would today be seeking a third term as mayor of Canton. They are now tight political allies, but The Report's analysis is that council-at-large candidate Jimmy Babcock (son of a former Canton Democratic mayor) cost Healy the 2003 Democratic Primary election.
Had Healy won the Democratic Primary, the SCPR believes that Janet Creighton would never have been mayor of Canton.
BACK TO THE CAMPAIGN AT HAND
Rewind Democrat Mayor William J. Healy's tenure as mayor back to the early days of his administration.
It was one snafu after another "in the early days" which Healy attributed last night to be owing to his selecting administration members (Bernabei, Nesbitt and others) by committee rather than by his own gut instinct.
In summing up why voters should vote for him rather than Healy, Miller or Hart, Conde in the following video focuses on the "tripping over his own feet" history of Healy's start up as mayor.
As far as the SCPR is concerned, Conde's closing statement is a case of being "too little, too late."
Conde's major hope (if he had any in a city with a huge Democratic voter registration margin) was to get started much earlier with an intense campaign much along the lines of what he closed with last night but with the addition that - in time - Healy will find a way to get into a self-destruct mode and, unfortunately drag Canton down with him.
However, Conde is not a politician that matches up in any way, shape or form against Healy. To expect him to get into a political cesspool with Healy, is not to understand "Chip" Conde. Political skulduggery is not "Chip" Conde.
Healy provides Conde with the opportunity in bringing politics to the forefront (i.e. "I am a Democrat;" "my opponents [apparently including the independents] are Republicans who have failed in the past at governing)" in his opening statement as a basis on which Conde could repeatedly and forcefully make the point that Healy is consummately political and weak on governing.
In his own statement which came before Healy's, Conde signals that he will do just that. But The Report's take is that he did not successfully do so. Conde wrapped up nicely in this vein, but the "in between" was pretty much the statesman Conde.
ON THE ISSUES
Quite frankly, though the SCPR is highly troubled by Healy's marked politicization of the mayor's office, "on the issues" Healy appeared to The Report to best Conde. This notwithstanding some cheerleading going on on the facebook page Democrats and Independents for Chip Conde, to wit:
WISDOM OF HEALY ADMINISTRATION SPENDING DECISIONS IN LIGHT OF PROJECTED $6.2 MILLION REVENUE SHORTFALL IN 2012/13
Healy effectively makes the point that the projected shortfall is beyond the mayor's control and sets himself up as the fiscal conservative best positioned to see Canton through the existing and coming tough times.
Conde does point out an internal Healy administration management problem which resulted in the loss of $481,000. But does not take advantage of this opening to really pounce on Healy for apparently making spending decisions to enhance his getting through the Democratic Primary race and winning re-election.
A NON-ISSUE & ON A LIGHTER NOTE
THE CANDIDATES' POLITICAL HERO
CITY'S APPROACH TO FIGHTING CRIME
Conde wins the day on this issue in the sense that it simply is not credible as Mayor Healy asserts that his administration is getting a handle on crime in Canton to the degree that people who grace the streets of Canton, whether a resident of Canton or not, feel safer.
However, it does not appear to the SCPR that Conde has an "outside-of-the-box" solution to the Healy administration's apparent failure on this front. He says to put more police on the streets. Duh? Where is the money to do so in the light of an impending $6.2 million shortfall? A hope and a prayer for grants?
Healy persists in hanging on to FBI reports of a three year decline and piggybacks on to the reports as his administration's police programs and techniques being the reason not withstanding Candidate Miller's list of crime statistics that fly in the face of the FBI report.
BRINGING JOBS TO CANTON
Conde is correct. The Healy administration was not ready to go when it took office on January 1, 2008 especially on the matter of economic development and bringing jobs to Canton.
Of late, there have been some Healy administration success and this is what is going to stick in the mind of Canton's voters. A good part of the jobs (the telemarketing ones) appear not to be living wage jobs.
These days, the mere appearance of jobs is a political plus.
For his part, Conde had nothing earth shaking to say about how a Mayor Conde would introduce a new dynamic into improving on the Healy so-so record.
STATE ISSUE 2 - COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
The relationship between unions and any administration is a really big deal in Stark County.
Notwithstanding his support of the Canton Professional Firefighters union, with all his equivocation as to whether or not he supports the Republican Kasich administration Senate Bill 5 (on the ballot as state Issue #2), Republican mayoralty candidate Conde likely has hurt himself badly in any hope he may have of getting public employee (including school teachers) support in his effort to unseat Mayor Healy.
Healy himself could not be more forthright in his denunciation of Issue 2.
Candidate Miller (who like Healy is clearly against Issue 2) had a problem squaring up his discussion with describing how he will vote on the issue. With the help of questioner Ron Ponder (NewsTalk14080 WHBC Points to Ponder)he got it straight that he is "no on Issue 2."
STARK COUNTY ISSUE 29 - 1/2% SALES TAX INCREASE
Other than Mayor Healy being the most articulate and committed in support of Issue 29, there was no difference in the positions of the candidate.
It is in the compelling interest of all Canton governance types to be for Issue 29. For it it fails, Canton stands to lose $400,000 more on top of the expected $6.2 million shortfall ($1.7 through 2012; $4.5 through 2013) that is in the offing for Canton.
CANTON SCHOOLS' 7.9 MILL LEVY
Canton Schools levy is really a non-issue. The Report can't imagine why the question framer did not construct this matter in such a way as to draw some different perspectives from among the candidates.
Candidate Conde did manage to get petty with Healy over whether or not The Mayor's Scholarship Program is the only one in the nation. But the SCPR does not think that was Conde's real point.
The SCPR takes Conde's criticism to be a subtle and larger issue: a Healy tendency to exaggerate the beneficial or specialness of his programs and policies?
Rather than look petty, it would have served Conde better to call Healy on his tendency to braggadocio. Of course, there is the possibility Conde was simply being petty. The crowd did cheer wildly when Healy talked about the scholarship program.
QUALITY OF MAYOR HEALY'S DECISIONS
Prime Healy opponent Conde must have been seeing red as he stood and listened to Mayor Healy go through a list of three decisions he thinks he has made as mayor as possibly being his best (e.g. starting with the Cavaliers, then saying no and then going onto the second, et cetera) in the context of the questioner (Ponder) asking merely for the "best" decision.
Of course, this was a slick way for the consummate politician to remind the audience of his accomplishments.
It must have been a jolt for Healy to hear Miller and Conde say that firing now Stark County Commissioner Bernabei as being the worst Healy decision. Healy had just got done saying implicitly that hiring Bernabei as part of his cabinet was his worst.
Interesting. Both sides agree that the Bernabei thing was the worst, but for entirely different reasons.
DEMOLITION OF VACANT BUILDINGS
Mayor Healy's administration has made significant progress in demolishing vacant buildings: 500 so far, with another 4,000 on the waiting list. The buildings breed crime and tearing them down has to help in the fight against crime.
MORE EFFECTIVELY USING THE HALL OF FAME AS AN ECONOMIC ASSET
CLOSING STATEMENTS OF HEALY, HART AND MILLER