The SCPR has been covering the Stark County commissioners weekly meeting for the better part of five years now.
During the times that the county was dealing with the goings on in the Stark County treasury from April 1, 2009 onwards (when the Frustaci theft of several million of taxpayer dollars from the Stark treasury was revealed) October 19, 2011, covering the meetings was a drama filled adventure.
One never knew what new nuance on the political ramifications and fallout were going to take front and center at any given meeting.
But with the county working out a deal with now former Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler whereby he resigned/retired on October 19th, the excitement factor at county commissioner meetings subsided dramatically.
(Note: Zeigler was not implicated in the Frustaci theft, but many Stark Countians did not think he had implemented administrative/structural/policy safeguards to have prevented the theft in the the first place)
One of a number of reasons that commissioners' meetings are poorly attended by the general public is that they can sort of be "like watching paint dry."
So with the Frustaci matter moving off center stage, were those of us who cover the meetings going to be fighting to stay awake?
Not a chance.
Enter Commissioner Tom Bernabei: a Democrat and a former Canton councilman, a former Canton law director, and city of Canton chief of staff first Healy administration.
Bernabei was elected:
- in November 2010 to fill out the term of former Democratic Commissioner Steve Meeks (a former Jackson Township trustee who opted to run for a full term against Republican Janet Creighton),
- who in turn had been appointed to fill out the term of former Democratic commissioner Tom Harmon,
- himself appointed to fill out the term of former Democratic commissioner Gayle Jackson who left to serve in the Democratic Governor Ted Strickland administration with the Lottery Commission).
Can you keep all of that Stark County Democratic Party wheeling and dealing stuff straight, folks?
Back to Bernabei getting "elected" commissioner.
From the get-go Bernabei has proved to be quite the jokester!
He has been a "cut-up" with nearly anyone who attends the commissioner meeting including yours truly, but especially so with fellow commissioner and well known Stark County Republican Janet Creighton.
- a former Stark County recorder,
- mayor of Canton,
- and While House staffer [the Bush administration]
defeated Democratic commissioner Steve Meeks for a commissioners post vacated by Democrat and former Nimishillen Township trustee Todd Bosley also in November, 2010.
So "I make no apologies for being a Republican" Janet Creighton and seemingly non-political Democrat (who really believes that?) and wonkish Tom Bernabei takes office with the daunting task of leading the Stark County public to renewed confidence in Stark County government in dust of the 2009 - 2011 fiasco in the Stark County treasurer's office.
Would the two be able to work together on the critical mission of bringing Stark County together with the people?
An unequivocal yes!
All one has to do is recall the impressive victory of a 0.5% sales tax levy issue (#29) in the November, 2011 election.
Quite a rebound from the tax having been obliterated in November, 2009 when in December, 2008 the-then commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos "imposed" a "permanent" 0.5% sales tax. Moreover, in light of the Stark treasury mess overlay (April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011).
On county issues, so far as the SCPR can detect, there is no partisanship going on between Creighton, Bernabei and, for another matter, Democrat Pete Ferguson.
Ferguson is now in lame duck status inasmuch as he decided not to run for reelection.
Not only have Bernabei and Creighton been able to work together, they have done so with a sense of humor which was initially injected into the commissioner meetings by Bernabei.
But Creighton has picked up fast on Bernabei's eccentric-esque humor.
On September 6th, the SCPR published a blog (LINK) in which Commissioner Creighton dubs Bernabei a Republican.
And as a sequel, just a week ago or so at a work session of the commissioners, she added kiddingly, of course, that it is her plan "to dress up as a Democrat" apparently this coming Sunday somewhere between the 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM: the time slot recently set by the commissioners as the "official" time for "trick and treating" in Stark County.
While there is a great deal of "pro-forma," routine business conducted by the commissioners at their meetings, they can be quite entertaining - witness the video posted below of Creighton declaring that she intends dress as a Democrat - at least on Halloween official; namely, October 28th.
Perhaps on April 1, 2013 Bernabei and Creighton will show up at their Monday work session that week with dress adorned with the other's political party affiliation.
For now, look out for "Democrat-dressed" Republican Janet Creighton trick and treating across Stark's landscape this coming Sunday!