Friday, July 27, 2012
CAN KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY SUCCEED AS MAYOR OF MASSILLON OVER THE LONG HAUL?
At one time yours truly thought that Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry might be the "golden girl" of Democratic Party politics is Stark County.
But no more.
Now the question is whether or not she can get through four years having had a presentable administration. And then vanish into clouds of political oblivion.
For a full seven months she has been bogged down in desperately seeking a way to get revenues to see Massillon through its immediate future. But she is getting very little in terms of cooperation out of Massillon's city council which is interesting in and of itself.
Elected to council (Massillon's Third Ward) in 2003, she served eight years on council until she defeated longtime mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. in the Democratic Party primary in 2011 and then went on to handily defeat the Republican candidate in November of last year.
Her defeat of Cicchinelli is likely to be the "high water mark" of her political success. So far she has demonstrated little that she possesses leadership qualities that she can use to help pull Massillon out of its financial quandaries.
She appears to be reduced to sloganeering about Massillon being the "City of Champions" which is like she is taking a page out of the playbook of fellow Democrat and mayor of Canton: William J. Healy, II (e.g. Canton - "the Utica Capital")
One would think that in her eight years on council Catazaro-Perry would have developed some solid relationships that could be useful to her now as the city's chief executive.
But it is obvious that she didn't.
And with the introduction of five new council members (four of whom are Republicans), she has no very few allies on council at all, even among the holdovers from her days on Massillon's legislative body. It was interesting to see her most reliable friend on council - Tony Townsend - jump ship on her second proposal to reduce the city income tax credit for those Massillonians who work in other municipal taxing jurisdictions. A key proposal for her, if Massillon is to be solvent at year's end because it would bring immediate money to the city.
Apparently, the only tried and true political friends that Mayor Catazaro-Perry has in Tigerland is Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his core group of political loyalists.
She has been so wedded to the Maier faction of the Massillon Democratic Party some (including the SCPR) wonders who is really calling the shots in the city administration.
Johnnie's brother George is safety service director and there are a number of other Maier faction hanger-oners who are by her side propping her up.
Now her administration finds itself in a "leading to nowhere" argument with her political adversaries as to whether or not its layoff of 27 city employees is going to produce expenditure savings to help Massillon make ends meet.
As the SCPR sees it, political standoff is the best the mayor can hope for going forward in her having bought into the power politics model subscribed to by the Maier political faction. While she puts a smiling face on a "might makes right" attitude, she is likely to find that going forward it will make it impossible to bring Massillon together so as to make this former industrial hub any semblance of its former greatness.
As has been pointed out by a number of observers, her predecessor did not leave her with a whole lot to work with (except for Baker, Hughes) in that there are the financial/economic dinosaurs of The Legends, the hotel project, the Massillon Parks and Recreation financing fiasco among a number of poorly thought out financial and economic moves which are likely to undermine her Massillon resuscitation moves over the next three and one half years.
However, the mayor demonstrated very little in terms of leadership during her council years to have ameliorated the conditions that remain with Massillon into the foreseeable future.
Yes, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is looking down the road as she moves her administration forward. But she appears to be hamstrung by the realities of the past and she is constantly reminded of that past by the annoying presence of that rear view mirror.
And with political friends like she has helping her, who needs any political enemies (which she has plenty of)?
For the sake of a brighter future for Massillon,she needs to pick up her leadership qualities which seemingly abound on paper, but which appear to be virtually non-existent in the "on-the-job" world.
Returning to the original question: Can Kathy Catazaro-Perry succeed as mayor of Massillon?
It is only 7 months into her administration, but for the answer to be "yes," she is going to make some major leadership adjustments.
The further question is: Is she up to it?