In the spotlight today is the selection of Alliance city council president by a Stark County political party.
With the passing of long term (since 1994) Carnation City "City Council" president John Benincasa on March 25 of this year, Ohio law provides that his political party (in this case, the Stark County Democratic Party and its Central Committee/Alliance Branch [SCDP-CC/Alliance]) appoints his successor to serve until the next regularly scheduled council elections (November, 2015).
There are a grand total of 15 Alliance Democrats who are eligible to weigh in this evening at 5:30 p.m. at the Stark Dems headquarters building located at 4220 12th Street NW in Canton.
The candidates are two persons who have served on council together; namely, current Councilwoman at Large Sue Ryan and former Councilman at Large Steve Okey.
As far as the SCPR is concerned, the person "who ought to be selected" is Councilwoman Ryan.
But it is far from certain that she will be.
Ryan tells the SCPR that she has counted her votes and she thinks she has a solid seven votes going into tonight's vote. She would have a simple majority but one of her supporters on the above-list is out-of-town and will be unable to attend.
So that should leave it that the worst she can do is a 7 to 7 tie.
In that case, the SCPR is told, the committee persons engage new rounds of voting until the ranks of either Okey or Ryan break and at least a simple majority emerges (.i.e. 8 to 6 one way or the other, assuming, of course, that fourteen committee persons show up).
Of the two candidates, Okey is clearly heads and shoulders above Ryan, it appears to the SCPR, in political sophistication and therefore would seem to have a marked advantage over Ryan in the political "wheelin and dealin" that often takes place in scenarios like the one about to unfold this evening.
Moreover, Okey is said to have another advantage in that Stark Dems chairman Randy Gonzalez (who will preside over the meeting) is thought to be in the Steve Okey camp.
The SCPR understands that Gonzalez has told Ryan that he hoped Okey would be a candidate.
Initially, Alliance central committeeman Derrick Loy would be Ryan's opposition.
Loy is a man who appears to be:
- SCDP-CC appointed sheriff George T. Maier's "right-hand-man,"
- much like The Report thinks the political relationship between Maier brother Johnnie Jr. (executive vice chairman of the Dems) and R. Shane Jackson (son of former Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson) who is the political director of the Stark County Democratic Party and is the chief deputy for Massillon clerk of courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.
- as an employee of the Stark County sheriff's office since September, 2013, Loy appears to The Report to be the shadow of George Maier as he traverses Stark County in his capacity as sheriff,
From prior SCPR blogs, [LINK 1, LINK 2] here is a summation of the relationship of the relationships between Loy, Okey, Gonzalez and Maier:Though he has no vote, Gonzalez has ways and means at his disposal, the SCPR believes, to influence his political party's election Okey's way. An example of such may be his setting this evening's meeting outside of Alliance. Some think it may be more difficult for Ryan to get her supporters over to Canton than for Okey.
Alliance "organized" Republicans do not like Loy and are likely to make him a special target in 2015 should he win the precinct committee contest. And there are a number of "organized" Alliance Democrats who do not like Loy and this dislike has be accentuated recently by the filing of a lawsuit by his political friend Steve Okey against Alliance City Council (omitting Democrats Phyllis Phillips and John Benincasa) alleging Ohio Sunshine Law violations in that council voted on the matter of whether or not Loy should remain a member of the Alliance Sewer and Water Advisory Board (AS&WAB).
From a prior SCPR blog on the Okey lawsuit:
"the occurrence of a second incident on January 13, 2014 which involved Okey political ally and Alliance Democratic Party activist Derrick Loy (when Okey ran for mayor in 2011) in which Loy was denied a requested re-appointment to the Alliance Sewer and Water Advisory Board (AS&WAB)."
Beyond the Loy/Okey/Maier ties there are, of course, the Okey/George T. Maier ties.
Some think that the primary motivation for the Okey versus Alliance City Council lawsuit (filed February 4, 2014) was to embarrass Alliance City councilman and in earnest Okey political foe: Republican Larry Dordea.
As pointed out by the SCPR in a blog done February 13th, Okey in his lawsuit chose to identify the collective defendants in the lawsuit as being "defendants Dordea."
Well, it so happens that Okey was one of the lawyers for Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez and the SCDP-CC ( and thereby necessarily defended a George T. Maier interest) in a mandamus action brought days before the December 13, 2013 SCDP-CC selection date (which action failed) to keep Maier from being considered on the 13th.
Dordea himself, though a Republican, was himself a candidate on the 13th to be appointed Stark County sheriff by the Dems.
And, of course, Dordea is the Republican candidate for sheriff against Maier in November's general election.
Okey vehemently denies (LINK) that the lawsuit had anything whatsoever to do with his connection to the Maier/Dordea contest for sheriff.
The SCPR puts that under the category of "the denial may be true, but who is going to believe it?"
Certainly, Larry Dordea doesn't.
The Report's take on Dordea is that he believes that the lawsuit and Okey's entry into the Alliance council presidency race has "everything to do" with the Dordea/Maier face off and nothing to do with Okey's professed concern about "sunshine in government" or wanting, from the council presidency chair to keep Alliance City Council "on the straight and narrow."
So from the inter-connectedness of Loy, the Maiers, Okey and Gonzalez standpoint, in a close vote, such as the one projected for this evening, The Report would be surprised for Ryan to emerge victorious.
However, Steve Okey has some "explainin" to do to participating Alliance Democratic central committee members as to why he stood by and allowed Republicans to gain control of Alliance City Council in the elections of 2013.
Take a close look at this graphic (underlying data from Stark County Board of Elections):
For some six to eight years, Alliance Democrats had controlled Alliance City Council.
But out of the general election of 2013, the Republicans came out on top.
Well, some think that Steve Okey had it within his means to have prevented this political turnover.
The thinking is that he could have either run for Ward 3 council and discouraged Republican Dordea (formerly councilman-at-large) from seeking the seat and thereby have preserved council being under the control of Alliance Democrats.
Or, Okey (formerly, at-large himself before not seeking reelection in what turned out to be a losing effort in running for mayor of Alliance in 2011) could have challenged for a council-at-large seat in 2013.
The Report is convinced that Okey should have run for the Ward 3 seat if he was all that interested in his Democratic Party (he seems, to the SCPR, to be more political than most Stark County elected public officials The Report comes across) being the majority party in Alliance's council.
Running for council-at-large would have been chancy.
But not running in Ward 3.
Dordea, the SCPR believes, would have opted to say council-at-large rather than risking losing to Okey.
So now he wants to be president of a Republican led council "to keep them on the 'straight and narrow?"'
If he gets appointed today, you can be sure that the Alliance Republicans will vigorously contest him come November, 2015.
If Sue Ryan wins today, who knows? Remember, the Republicans took the lead in making her council president, pro tem.
While the Alliance Republicans understand that Ryan is a Democrat, she does not seem to make their "blood boil" like Okey does.
Accordingly, it is not only likely that the Republicans will maintain control of Alliance City Council in the 2015 election, if Okey is the SCDP-CC/Alliance appointed council president; look for Republicans to prevail on a well-known and ensconced Alliance Republican (not currently an elected official) to take Okey on.
And if that unnamed person heeds the call, The Report thinks the SCDP-CC/Alliance branch will have succeeded in handing the presidency to the Republicans.
A position the Democrats held under Benincasa since 1994.
How would that be for making "a rambing wreck" of the Alliance Democratic Party?