As the Stark County Political Report sees the upcoming November Canton mayoralty race, it is Mayor Healy's to lose. And he may just do that if Republican "Chip" Conde can put together "the perfect campaign."
The Report is skeptical that Conde can do so. Having said that, the SCPR hopes that Conde can prove the skepticism to be ill-founded. For Mayor Healy has demonstrated to The Report that Canton is going nowhere except perhaps towards further decline with the programs, policies and administrative skills (or, better said - "the lack thereof") manifested in Healy's first term.
Why is the SCPR "down-in-the-mouth" about a possible Conde victory come November?
A number of reasons:
First, in order for Conde to defeat incumbent Healy he will have to take the gloves off and hammer the mayor loudly and repeatedly.
While Healy has a veneer about him that suggests that a "high road" type candidate, do not believe it. The Stark County Political Report has steadfastly maintained that Healy is ethically challenged and The Report has seen nothing of recent vintage to dispel this take.
Conde, on the other hand, has a believable and authentic class about himself. The SCPR thinks that Mayor Healy will correctly size Conde up this way and will attempt to use this quality against the challenger.
In a strange and bizarre way, if Conde buys into a formal Healy overture (thereby seizing the high ground) on campaign ethics, he helps rehabilitate Healy's tarnished ethical issues.
Conde appears to have an impeccable ethical record and merely needs to recite the fact of the matter and make it clear - that any Healy proposal on campaign ethics is a "thou protestest too much" maneuver.
In short, Conde's position ought to be: Just forget agreements to be ethical and high minded. Just conduct yourself that way (while pointing out specifics of Healy's past questionable ethical slips): Mayor Healy!
Second, Conde must advantage himself on the "open door issues" that Healy and his administrative members provide him. And he must do so as the doors are opened.
The Healy administration largely under the cover of Safety Director Tom Ream (a man who appears to the SCPR to be cut of the same cloth as Mayor Healy) have scuttled Canton's participation in rehabbing what has been termed as being a broken 9-1-1 countywide emergency services system. However, both Ream and Healy have failed to articulate why Canton's participation is bad for Canton.
The Report thinks Conde should have done his homework on 9-1-1 by now (a key supporter is 9-1-1 project manager Tom Concatto) and he needs to step forward NOW with his analysis and what his position will be a mayor of Canton.
And there are other issues that Healy has opened the door on and banging it right into the knee of candidate Conde, to wit: crime in Canton and Healy's claim that zero-tolerance is working (e.g. the shocking Sherrick Rd incident, repeated anecdotal complaints to Canton City Council, et cetera); the faux quality of economic development efforts by the Healy administration and Healy's foot dragging on efficiencies of Stark County/City of Canton duplicative governmental services among others.
Here it is the eve of June 1, 2011 and the SCPR is pushing Conde to go full barrel on his campaign.
Because Conde has so many barriers to overcome to become mayor, it is imperative that he start a very public campaign now rather than the traditional Labor Day kickoff dates that many politicians use.
Barriers? What barriers? Okay, here is the list:
- running against an incumbent for one. As mayor, Healy will get built in opportunities to campaign while not being tabbed as doing such for, after all, he is mayor of Canton with official duties. Moreover, he uses the power of office (via use of executive orders, board appointment powers, et cetera) to further his political agenda while appearing to some as being mayor-esque.
- competing with a master political fundraiser in Healy. "Money is said to be the mother's milk of politics." It is hard to see how Conde can out-fundraise Healy (with his bevy of well-heeled out-of-town supporters), but he needs to raise enough money that is essential to getting his message out clearly and frequently.
So it may seem that five months is a long way off. But its not in Conde's case. Given the hand that he has been dealt, he will need every hour, every minute and every second to accomplish what appears to the SCPR to be an impossible task.
Observers will be able to tell early on (by the end of July) whether or not Conde has the proverbial "snowball's chance in Hell of winning."
As The Report told Republican Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton a few weeks back: Conde can win this race in the face of overwhelming odds against him.
The question is whether or not A.R."Chip" Conde is made of "the right stuff" to pull out a truly stunning victory?