Friday, June 21, 2013


Canton councilmen have taken a fancy to tinkering with the city's political structure.

Recently, Councilman Joe Cole (lame duck - at large) offered an initiative to eliminate Canton three at-large representatives.

Cole's main argument for the change?

Save money.  Some $93,000 he said.

But on May 20th, except for Cole himself, Councilman (and majority leader) David Dougherty (D - Ward 6) and Edmond Mack (D - Ward 8); the rest of council voted "no" on Cole desire to put the question to voters.

Some feel (including the SCPR) that the ostensible reform was more sour grapes on Cole's part than any genuine desire to make council more efficient and responsive to the Canton citizenry.

In a series of political maneuvers between Cole and Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, Cole got finessed out of running again for council-at-large in what turned out to have been an almost certain pathway to his returning to council.

The SCPR's thumbs down on Cole's proposal was that it would have eliminated a valuable perspective on council:, to wit:  "a citywide perspective."

The latest attempt to change the way council does business with its constituents is one initiated by Councilman Thomas West (D - 2).

West, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, proposed changing the term of Canton council members from two years to four years.

On Monday night, council approved sending the measure to Canton's voters for consideration on the November ballot.

Councilperson Mary Cirelli (lame duck; D - at large), Kevin Fisher (D -5) and Frank Morris voted against the West measure.

West gave as his reason, the low voter turnout, and therefore holding an election every two years is a waste of money.

By that logic, why have general elections.

The SCPR took a look at all of West's elections from his first in 2003.

Look at the numbers.

Even in the general election, a maximum of 1,075 voters in all West's years running for Ward 2 councilman in any one election.  The 1,075 represents about 25% of all the voters in Ward 2.

In his 2011 primary election contest, 1023 voters showed up.  Again, about 25% of all the Ward 2 voters.

A waste of money, Councilman West?  A general election, a waste of money?

To boot, in the eleven elections taking place; West has run unopposed five times.

It is very interesting that Councilmen Cole and West want to save money at the expense of Cantonians having voices in a varied perspective (citywide) and in terms of frequency (every two years).

While Cole's proposal certainly would have saved Canton taxpayers money in eliminating three council positions; West's proposal in the opinion would not.  Elections will be held in off odd numbered years whether or not Canton ward and at-large races happen to be on the ballot.

Closer to the truth, the SCPR thinks, is that it is pain for West and some other councilpersons to get off their duffs and be out there connecting with their constituents.

Poor voter turnout?

Maybe because West is such an utterly unexciting councilman who does not have the leadership ability to get his people (the councilman in council presentations like to refer to Ward 2 voters as being "my people,") involved in their government.

Being the unmotivated person he appears to be in terms of energizing "his people" to participate in their government, undoubtedly West has enjoyed running "unopposed" in five of his eleven elections.

Rather than feeling burdened by elections, West should take up the challenge of ginning up more involvement and participation.

Maybe even school some young Ward 2 citizens as potential rivals in upcoming elections?

What's more, West could let the idea of Canton's going to a charter government see "the light of day" in his role as judiciary chairman.

The Report's recollection is that West deep sixed (as judiciary chairman) former Republican Councilman Mark Butterworth's proposal to submit to the voters the question of charter government during his term as councilman.

Doesn't sound like West is all that strong on democratic principles of government, does it?

Cirelli, Fisher and Morris in their votes show that they are less self-serving than their peers.

The SCPR, for one trusts that Canton's voters will soundly reject Councilman West's anti-democratic proposal!

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