As the SCPR sees it, the "hotbed" election night focus will be on the city of Masillon and its city council races in Wards 1, 2, 4 and 6.
Perhaps who will control Massillon city government for the next two years.
It is rare indeed to see a Republican Party organization and key Stark County elected Republicans heavily engaged in a municipal election in Stark County as between Alliance, Canton and Massillon.
A sampling of campaign contributions to those Republicans in competitive races in Massillon is quite revealing:
- Votes for Women * ($1,000),
- * Votes for Women is a front group for the organized Stark County Republican Party, which like the Stark Dems and its Coalition of Women Voters, dons a political neutral sounding name but only endorses candidates of the Republican Party (Votes for Women) or Democratic Party (Coalition of Women Voters)
- ($2,000) Votes for Women
- ($40) Ward 5 councilman Donnie Peters
- ($20) Lee Brunckhart (2011 mayoral candidate
- ($50) Jane Timken (Stark County GOP official)
- ($50) Stark Co. Commissioner Richard Regula
- ($20) Common Pleas judge Kristin Farmer ($20)
- ($20) Domestic Relations judge Rosemary Hall
- ($20) Stark Co. Commissioner Janet Creighton
- ($20) former Stark Commissioner Jane Vignos
- ($100) Stark Co. Auditor Alan Harold
- ($25) Mayor Pat Fallot of Louisville
- ($40) Judge C. Roland Centrone - Massillon Municipa
- ($40) former Judge Rick Kettler - Massillon Municipal
- ($50) Judge Sheila Farmer - 5th District COA
ED LEWIS, IV
(All Republicans, except where noted)
- ($50) Councilman Steven Tharp, Jr of Brewster
- ($10) Judge Roland Centrone - Massillon Municipal Ct
- ($10) Judge Curtis Werren - Stark Ct of Common Pleas (
- ($40) Judge Rosemary Hall - Domestic Relations Ct
- ($10) Megan Starrett, Democrat unopposed Ward 5
- ($20) state Representative Maryilyn Slaby
And for the sake of competitive politics and the benefit that competition brings to the give and take of government, it has been refreshing to see the resurgence of Republican "urban" political engagement in at least one of Stark's three major cities.
It was a huge surprise when the Republicans took control of Massillon's council two years ago.
However, the takeover was not an accident.
The SCPR attributes the switch to the superb efforts of Ward 2 councilwoman Nancy Halter.
She went out and recruited attractive candidates to run in Ward 1: Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly, (herself in Ward 2), Ed Lewis, IV in Ward 6 and Milan Chovan at-large.
And they all won!
Nobody had to be more shocked that the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (former Stark County Democratic Party chairman) and Stark Dems political director Shane Jackson.
Fresh off their victory of May, 2013 in ousting 24-year mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. in the Democratic Party primary, they took their eye off the "political" ball and forgot that their Kathy Catazaro-Perry was destined for failure as mayor without majority support in council.
Now they are scrambling to recover.
The Maier and Jackson tandem (in the SCPR's assessment) have candidates loyal to them and "their" mayor in Ward 2 (Dave Irwin), Ward 4 (Shaddrick Stinson) and Ward 6 (Linda Litman).
Stinson seems to be the most likely of the three to make it to council.
The Report is told that Catzaro-Perry herself was out in Republican Jim Triner's stronghold (the area including and surrounding The Legends golf course) to campaign door-to-door for Stinson.
Recently a Stinson campaign representative sat down with Cicchinelli and tried to convince him that as councilperson he would not be a Maier/Jackson captive.
And, apparently, he succeeded.
Cicchinelli declined a request that he put a Stinson sign in his yard, but the impression that The Report gets is that he will personally support him mostly because of his being a Democrat.
Cicchinelli tells the SCPR that he thinks "when all is said and done" Stinson will be his own man on council.
The Report does not agree with Cicchinelli.
Looking at Stinson's pre-general campaign finance report and Catazaro-Perry connected contributions ($150) and believing as host of Maier/Jackson loyalists must be hidden within the "contributions of $25 or less" (which by Ohio election law does not have to be attributed to specific names) and, of course, the mayor "hoofing it" for Stinson, it does not compute that - if elected - Stinson will forget "who brung him to the dance."
At one time, the SCPR thought that Republican Jim Triner might pull off an upset in this "most heavily Democratic Ward" in all of Massillon.
Well, by The Report's assessment, it appeared that when the Catazaro/Maier/Jackson triumvirate turned on Quenessa Hampton when she did show them that she was an independent minded councilwoman (all of a sudden, her military status became an issue and she had to withdraw because of the Hatch Act prohibition on military holding "partisan" political office); interesting, no?) and her husband Edward decided to act as her surrogate in taking out petitions to run as a non-partisan that such was "the perfect 'political' storm" whereby a Republican might just win in the 4th.
All reports are that Edward Hampton is doing very little, if anything, in terms of campaign. That he did not reach the threshold of $1,000 raised in campaign contributions and therefore was not required and did not file a pre-general campaign finance report seems to be validation of the reported campaign inactivity.
All-of-a-sudden, the 4th is now a Republican versus Democrat race in Massillon's most Democratic ward.
In the opinion of the SCPR, council president Tony Townsend who was formerly the elected 4th ward councilman was the least able of all of Massillon councilpersons that the SCPR has observed in the nearly six years of existence of The Report covering Massillon politics.
It appears to The Report that his close political friends Maier and Jackson finagled a way to persuade Republican Al Hennon to drop his race against Townsend for council president by inducing him to join the Catazaro-Perry administration as safety director.
There was no way Townsend was going to win citywide in Massillon had Hennon stayed in the race.
Apparently, he got elected in Ward 4 by being a Democrat in Massillon's most Democratic ward, no?
To sum it up, given the apparent fade of Edward Hampton as a viable factor, it would be a surprise equivalent to, if not exceeding, the 2011 Republican takeover of council if Triner were to win.
And if Triner loses, then the Republican's control of council evaporates.
It could be that Democrats like Paul Manson (at-large) or Michelle Del Rio-Keller might join those Republicans elected next Tuesday and form an bipartisan coalition and organize the 2014/25 council.
The new council, even if pro-Catazaro-Perryites Shaddrick Stinson, Dave Irwin and Linda Litman are elected, will, in the SCPR's analysis, tilt against the mayor on key votes.
So the "balance of political power" of council will not shift towards the Catazaro-Perry administration even if everything falls her way in the council races.
Sure to be elected Democrats Andrea Scassa (Ward 3, who the SCPR sees as being truly independent), Megan Starrett (Ward 5, a "John Ferrero Democrat"), Michelle Del Rio-Keller (at-large; a likely independent minded, if not somewhat "anti-Catazaro-Perry type) and Paul Manson (at-large, who probably has ties to the Cicchinelli forces in Massillon politics) constitute a bloc of councilpersons who will keep the administration "on pins and needles."
Moreover, the SCPR believes that chances are very good that Halter (Irwin) and Lewis (Litman) will survive the Maier/Jackson inspired challenges and will return to council.
One has to wonder whether or not Stark prosecutor is following through with his promise (reported in a prior SCPR blog) to Halter that he would be supporting her reelection bid.
If so, the support is of the "word-of-mouth" variety he is passing on to Ward 2 Democrats because there is nothing in Halter's campaign finance report to indicate monetary support.
As noted above, in the SCPR analysis of Ed Lewis' campaign finances, Ferrero political loyalist Megan Starrett has made a contribution to him which occurred on July 31st - and - he has reciprocated with a contribution to her campaign on August 24th.
Also notable on Starrett is the fact that Frank Cicchinelli contributed to her campaign.
Here is a look at the Irwin and Litman "list of contributors" campaign finance reports. They make it abundantly clear that these folks are linked-at-the-hip to the Maier/Jackson Massillon political machine.
While the Massillon races will be among Stark County's most interesting to watch, the results will not change the "political - balance of power - in Massillon.
The city will continue to struggle with its financial problems (currently placed "in fiscal emergency" by the state of Ohio Auditor) which are, in the judgment of the SCPR, a consequence of the political turmoil that has plagued Massillon city council for some years now.
Look for that turmoil to continue no matter what the outcome of next Tuesday's election.