UPDATE: 1:45 PM
Concerning Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern (ultimately involving Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II):
From the Youngstown Vindicator of March 13, 2011 (an extract - Bertram de Souza, the writer):
So it is no surprise to the SCPR that Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern is in the fight of his political life and is pulling out all stops to preserve his job as the Ohio Democratic State Central Committee come March of 2012.
On Nov. 9, 1994, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Harry Meshel, was handed a “While You Were Out” telephone message sent by an Ottawa County commissioner. Here’s what the message said:
“Ask you that you resign.”
Meshel, former long-time state legislator from Youngstown, was livid. To be sure, the Democratic Party had suffered a stunning defeat in the 1994 statewide elections, starting with the embarrassing loss of the Democratic nominee for governor, Rob Burch, to Republican incumbent, George V. Voinovich.
However, Meshel, who had served as president of the Ohio Senate, was stunned by the audacity of the political whippersnapper from Ottawa County, Chris Redfern.
Fast forward 16-plus years to Jan. 30, 2011.
A note to Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern — yes, the same former commissioner — from Harry Meshel — the same former party chairman and legislator:
“Thought you might like a reminder of your ‘warmth’ toward me after I suffered the defeats of ’94.
“You had a great Governor, a full slate of Dem officeholders, a ton of money.
“I had none of these.
“You failed miserably!
“You have earned the requirement to ‘take the pipe!’
One of those stops was to insist that Canton Democratic Mayor William J. Healy, II run for Ohio District 29 state central committeeman.
Redfern is said to have told Healy he owes him because of the support, at Redfern's direction, the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) to Healy's campaign against fellow Democrat and retiring Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler in this year's May primary and then again against Republican candidate A.R. "Chip" Conde this past November.
Former Stark County Dem Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. as a result of state office redistricting which occurs every 10 years cannot run for re-election in the 29th because he now resides in the 27th which includes western Stark County including Maier's home township (Tuscarwas). He is running in the 27th.
State Representative Stephen Slesnick has pulled and The Report is told will file competing petitions to run against Healy.
Apparently, Slesnick would not be supporting Redfern next March or perhaps into early April when Redfern has to stand for re-election according to the bylaws of the Ohio Democratic Party State Central Committee Bylaws.
Redfern was first elected in December, 2005 and re-elected in 2008. However, he has come under fire because Democrats lost all statewide elective offices in the November, 2010 election.
Stark County has not come anywhere near seeing a person of the political magnitude of William McKinley, Jr. (25th President of the United States) in the post-McKinley era.
But that may be about to change.
The Report is beginning to believe that Canton Mayor William J. Healy is on a drive to place the name William J. Healy (his father would be proud of the effort) alongside McKinley's as one of the most powerful politicians Stark County has ever produced.
Healy swept back into town out of New York City after having achieved his MBA at New York University's Stern School of Business (2002) having graduated from Canton McKinley High School in 1981.
THE ELECTORAL BASE OF THE HEALY RISE TO POLITICAL POWER
And he swirled back into Canton on a mission: to vindicate the rejected leadership of his father, also William J., who had represented Canton in the Ohio Legislature for 24 years.
Bill, the second, came from out of political nowhere in 2003 to almost become the Democratic nominee to run for mayor of Canton.
Had it not been for now in-lock-step political friend Jimmy Babcock being in the race, the SCPR believes Healy with the assistance of his Mark Hanna (McKinley's loyal political operative); namely Demetrious St. John) would have won his first foray into Canton/Stark County politics against veteran Canton politician Bill Smuckler and thereby been on his way instantly as an up and coming boy-wonder political phenom.
Moreover, The Report thinks it would have been much more likely that Healy (being the fresh political face he was at the time and on the political upswing) would have defeated Republican Janet Creighton.
Smuckler may be Stark County's most mature politician who can rise above party politics to do what is good for Canton/Stark County in a collaborative fashion, but he lacks charisma and political killer instinct and therefore has a difficult time winning elections where a more politically consummate/well-known figure and/or charismatic politician is the opponent.
On his march to become Stark County's Democratic kingpin, Healy took on Stark County Democrat and incumbent state Representative Mary Cirelli in the Democratic Primary in 2004.
To this day, Healy and Cirelli are bitter political enemies and if there is any political figure who may in the end have a chance to upend Healy's drive to dominate and control Stark County Democratic politics, Cirelli certainly figures to be a primary person in the lead - if only in the background - of a "Stop Healy" movement.
Anyone who has a quest like Healy does has to show political enemies who is boss.
Healy has done so with Smuckler in having had his political revenge on him this past May and he likely will never take Healy on head-to-head ever again.
However, undoubtedly he will join the likes of Mary Cirelli and other Healy haters within the Stark Democratic Party, if and when Healy seems vulnerable, to bring the mayor down.
Commissioner Tom Bernabei (a Democrat and long time Canton law director whom Healy fired as service director and chief of staff early on in the Healy administration because Bernabei opposed Healy on various issues) might also bind with the likes of Cirelli and Smuckler to become problematical to Healy in his drive to dominate Stark County's organized Democrats. But as time goes only and Healy picks up political momentum, these prospects grow dimmer.
In an ironical twist, The Report believes that the one person who could have defeated Healy (given his track record as mayor and his political manipulations) in a general election on November 8th of this year would have been Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton, who Healy bested in November, 2007.
Though Creighton remains a mortal political enemy of Healy out of the bitter defeat she suffered at his hand in 2007, she as a Republican is not positioned to stop Healy's march towards political domination of the Democrats unless she would be willing to take Healy on head-to-head once again.
The SCPR believes that she has lost her taste for heavy political battle and that is why she opted - in making a Stark County political comeback - to run for commissioner.
Creighton had hoped that her former administrator A.R. "Chip" Conde could be a stand-in for her and put a chink in Healy's future political ambitions that way. But Conde had three short falls:
- he proved not to have the political moxie and nastiness (in a background sense) that one needs to take on the likes of a William J. Healy, II,
- he could not raise money effectively, and
- he had no plan
About forty-seven percent (47%) of Cantonians voted against Healy. The Healy no-confidence votes were split between Richard Hart, John Miller and Conde. Had Hart and Miller have not been in the race,
The Report believes most of those votes would have gone to Conde or Hart/Miller voters would not have voted at all in the Canton mayor's race.
However, a win is a win is a win and Healy continues steady progress on his drive to become Stark County's contemporary equivalent of over 100 years ago.
As time goes on and memories blur look for Healy to revive the 2011 re-election result as some sort of a mythological smash-mouth-politics overwhelming win.
THE PURELY POLITICAL BASE OF HEALY RISING TO POLITICAL POWER
Bottom line for William J. Healy, II is that those who are to be close to him must be Kool-Aid drinkers for Healy (not necessarily the Democratic Party line, but, rather, the Democratic Party line as endorsed by Healy).
Healy goes after those who criticize or oppose him. Councilpersons Cirelli, Hawk and Smuckler have all been the butt of Healy attacks. Stark County Commissioner Pete Ferguson has been screamed at because he fails to see the merit in Healy dominating in the structure of countywide building department, health department and IT services consolidation efforts.
Randy Gonzalez shakes his head in disbelief as Healy works to scuttle a finalized rebuild of Stark's 9-1-1 emergency services for no apparent reason.
Gonzalez clearly does not get it about Healy. It is Healy's way or "there ain't no way" it going to happen if William J. Healy, II has any ability whatsoever to have an effect of the outcome of anything; especially if there is political gain to be had by the mayor.
Healy has amassed quite a retinue of "bow-and-scrape" (in the opinion of the SCPR) to Healy ("the Healyites) types. To name a few:
- Demetrious St. John
- Don Singer
- Corey Minor-Smith
- Councilman Joe Cole
- Councilman-elect Jimmy Babcock
- Councilman Thomas West
- Councilwoman Chris Smith
- Councilman and council leader David Dougherty
- Safety Director Thomas Ream
- Amanda Trump (candidate for state rep. Ohio's 48th against Kirk Schuring)
- Dave Kirvin of Local 94, Plumbers and Pipefitters union
The first tip-off that Healy has changed from merely being an individual office seeker into a man with an overall political purpose and drive was a meeting that took place at the Plumbers and Pipefitters union hall a month or so ago in which a Whos Who of those dissatisfied with the direction of the Stark County Democratic Party under the leadership of Chairman Randy Gonzalez gathered to discuss ways and means to change things so that organized labor has more of a say in who gets party support for whatever political endeavor may come up.
When the SCPR inquired of the meeting with Gonzalez, it turns out that he did not know about that Friday afternoon meeting and was not invited.
But Mayor William J. Healy, II was there in all his glory. An ostensible purpose to save the political life of Healy political workhorse Joe Cole whom a poll showed was in danger of losing to Republican council-at-large candidate Rosemary Diamond who had served in council before.
Healy, who, when he first came back to town talking his MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business adorned in his high priced suits was a turn-off to the unionists, has turned things around with organized labor and he appears to using what political clout organized labor still has (in the light of greatly diminished membership numbers) as a springboard on what the SCPR believes to be a drive to become the de facto in not de jure boss of the Stark organized Dems.
Healy has seemed to turn the head of one time avowed opponent and Canton City Council President Allen Schulman.
Early in the Healy administration when Healy fired the independent-minded Tom Bernabei and Tom Nesbitt (predecessor to Tom Ream as safety director), Schulman and Healy were eyeball-to-eyeball in confrontation on occasion.
How things have changed between Healy and Schulman. Schulman sat out the Healy/Smuckler Democratic primary race of this past May. Who would have thunk that a mere year ago or so?
Now, at the very least, Schulman has turned into a "neutral" person on Healy and perhaps even now a political ally of sorts of the mayor. But Schulman is a highly savvy political person and the quality of his continuing relationship with Healy will be a good test of the mayor's political standing within the Stark Democratic Party as he fills out his second term.
In The Report's research for this blog a new name (Amanada Trump) comes to the fore.
In researching the name Amanda Trump as a person who has taken out petitions with the Stark County Board of Elections, the SCPR has come onto some web links indicative of, perhaps, a close political association between Trump and Healy.
Trump is listed on Protect Ohio's Future as a staffer financial consultant. This is how she is described on the website:
Amanda Trump is a finance consultant for the Protect Ohio’s Future PAC. Amanda began her political career interning at the Ohio House of Representatives as a freshman at the Ohio State University.
She then worked on a number of local campaigns in the Columbus area through a political consulting firm that specialized in direct mail and fundraising.
After graduating, she returned to her hometown of Canton, Ohio to work for the Stark County Democratic Party. In July of 2010, she began working under Melissa Barnhart on Richard Cordray’s re-election campaign for Attorney General.
So the question becomes: Did Stark County Democratic Party Chair Randy Gonzalez come up with the idea of Trump running? Or, was it Healy's idea? Hmm?
When the Stark Democrats met on October 31st to determine who the Democratic selectee would be to serve as Stark County treasurer with the resignation/retirement of Democrat Gary Zeigler, it was a question of whether the Dems would select Republican Alex Zumbar (who the Stark Commissioners appointed on October 19th) or would they do the expected thing and appoint a Democrat.
Chairman Gonzalez was under enormous pressure to appoint Zumbar in the interest of consistency and continuity by the likes of The Repository editorial board and other "above politics" types across the Stark County political spectrum.
Gonzalez gave in to the "for Zumbar" crowd much to the dismay of stanch Democrat Alan Schulman and his new found political friend Mayor William J. Healy, II.
That evening (during a break in the Canton City Council meeting) this is what Schulman and Healy had to say about the Gonzalez led proceedings held earlier in the day at a local union hall (the Golden Lodge on Harrison):
Reading between the lines? When the opportunity seems right, expect Healy to use the Gonzalez political capitulation to cast Gonzalez aside from the Stark County Democratic Party leadership picture.
An additional factor in the SCPR's read on Healy's long range political drive is the heavy financing that he has gotten in nearly every campaign from outside of Stark County. The significance of these contributions and other supports is that political power brokers from across Ohio (Plusquellic of Akron, Mallory of Cincinnati and Jackson of Cleveland) see Healy as a rising political star and they want a piece of the action.
Another place to look is an opening that Healy has seized upon at the state political level (other than his abiding connection with the likes of Ohio Dem Chair Chris Redfern et al from his days in the Ohio Legislature [2005-2007]) in terms of the Democratic state committeeman seat for the 29th Ohio Senate district which parallels the state senate seat currently held by Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager).
With the constitutionally mandated every 10 year redistricting of Ohio House and Senate seats, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (former Stark Dem chair and Massillon clerk of courts) has been districted out of the 29th (as his home - Tuscarawas Township - is located in the restructured 27th) and therefore there is a opening in the 29th.
Who should surface to run in the political vacuum created by Maier moving over to the 27th?
You've got it! the consummately politically ambitious William J. Healy, II.
While it appears he has opposition, don't count on it. William Smith is no treat to Healy and The Report believes that Slesnick will not actually file. If he does, he will prove no match against Healy among Stark's Democrats.
To become Governor? U.S. Senator? Perhaps, beyond? Hmm?
Undoubtedly, early in William McKinley's career few thought he would end up being president of the United States. But he had the drive and the good fortune to parlay his political acumen into the top spot in the nation.
Probably quite a few, if not nearly all, if not all Stark Countians would laugh at the prospect of Healy driving to the top of the American political/government structure. Perhaps, even Healy himself, despite the enormous ego he has, would scoff at such a notion.
Just keep this blog in mind as William J. Healy, II ascends his "Jacob's ladder" into the ethereal reaches!