Friday, February 6, 2015



Continuing the SCPR's analysis of "partisan" candidate filings on Wednesday of this week, this blog picks up with a detailed analysis of Alliance candidate filings.


The Report was somewhat surprised that Alliance Republican Larry Dordea did not file as his party's candidate for council presidency given the animosity that exists between him and Steve Okey.

For those readers who want a refresh on the underlying history of the Dordea/Okey acrimony, here is a link to a prior blog which goes into "the bad blood" in great detail:
While Dordea would likely have relished taking Okey on and give him "a political spanking" in November; there was a concern that should he take out petitions for the presidency that Okey (who along with Dordea lives in Alliance's Ward 3) would simply file in Ward 3 and get an unopposed route onto council.

Most Alliance Republican officeholders loathe Steve Okey.

Just yesterday the SCPR had a conversation with a well placed Alliance Republican who recounted chapter and verse the grievances that Alliance Republican movers and shakers have against him.

The gist of the complaints center on a perception that with Steve Okey everything legislative in his days as an Alliance councilman was grounded in hardcore Democratic politics.

So it is not surprising that Mayor Alan Andreani (a Republican) who is running unopposed as of now (remember, an independent can still file up until May 4th in all the races discussed in this blog), took up the cause of finding an alternative to Dordea who is running unopposed in Ward 3.

It appears he made quite of find in getting Garnes to run.

Andreani persuaded former Alliance Superintendent of Schools Arthur D. Garnes to run against Okey.
There couldn't be a greater contrast between two candidates.

The SCPR sees Okey as a quintessential Democratic Party politico whereas Garnes (though registered as a Republican since 1972) has been let's say more "presidential" in his politics.  

He holds former (now deceased) council president John Benincasa up as his model. 

So does Okey.

Okey is not only a political target of Alliance Republicans. It appears to The Report on talking with her that Sue Ryan, a longtime, influential Alliance Democrat still harbors ill (political) feelings towards Okey.

The Report is told that there has been a split in the Alliance Democratic Party with Okey leading one faction and the other reportedly is the work of Brian Simone.

A source tells the SCPR that Simone had indicated that he was willing to serve another term as president of the Alliance Area Democratic Club (AADC) for 2015.

Here is where matters get dicey:

  • At the November meeting, AADC members were to confirm the officer slate for 2015, however,
    • From the floor Steve Okey was nominated to be president,
    • Consequently, the election was delayed until the December meeting,
      • At the December meeting, a number of folks, who, according to the SCPR's highly knowledgeable and credible source, had never been participants in the AADC showed up, paid their dues and thereby were authorized to vote on the slate of officers including the Simone/Okey presidency contest,
      • Result:  Okey defeats Simone
  • In January, 2015 the Okey group and the Simone group are said to have met at different locations:
    • the Okey group at Panchos,
    • the Simone group at Ryan's Junction
  • Hence, the basis for the SCPR thinking that there is a split among Alliance Democrats.
How (?) Okey thinks that is going to help him win in November is a mystery to the SCPR.

One Alliance Republican officeholder says that Garnes is so highly regarded in Alliance and environs that he will defeat Okey soundly.

A leading Alliance area Democratic officeholder effuses on the high qualities and integrity of Garnes.

However, another Alliance elected official (a person other than one one cited above) questions how well Garnes (a Rotarian and active in the Alliance Area Senior Citizen Center)  is known by 2015 voters these days given that he has not been superintendent since 2004.   Moreover, this Republican source persuasively assesses that Garnes has not been tested on his "running for office" work ethic."

Okey has been tested and has demonstrated he can win (and lose) citywide.  So he is a mixed bag.

In Andreani (also a former school superintendent [Marlington]) being at his side, Garnes has a resource that can get him up to speed quickly on how to successfully run for office.  

It is too early to tell how this race will turn out.

However, running for city council president is different than securing a political party appointment through the "wheelin and dealin" that Okey appears to have used to best Ryan last April.

The sour taste that he and his Stark Dems pals left in Ryan mouth could be the straw that breaks Okey's political back as he tries to come back from his loss to Andreani in Alliance's mayoralty race of 2011.

Here is a series of extracts from Stark County Board of Election records which shows the decline of Steve Okey in Alliance politics from 2005 through 2011:

There are two other races that have the potential to make Alliance a political battleground in November.


For beginners, readers can assume that Mount Union graduate and University of Akron law student Julie Jakimedes will lead the pack of Alliance council-at-large candidates when results come in on November 5, 2015.

From what the SCPR sees, notwithstanding her youth, Julie is the de facto if not the de jure leader of Republicans on Alliance City Council.

Beyond Jakmides, it is more or less a crap shoot.

For the Democrats, it appears to the SCPR that Brian Simone is the best bet to been among the top three vote getters.

He is a past president of the Alliance Area Democratic Club (the Alliance Democratic faction that Steve Okey now heads up).

The SCPR sees Simone, an Alliance businessman since 1989, as offering an alternative to Okey's highly partisan "the Democratic Party has the answer to everything" type of Democrat.

While he is a staunch Democrat himself (selected as Alliance Democrat of the Year by the Alliance Area Democratic Club), he seeks to be a "come, let us reason together" Democrat in the context of working with Republicans.

Though Steve Okey was by then (June, 2014) the Alliance Democratic Party precinct committee person appointed council president (to succeed John Benincasa who died in March, 2014), it is interesting to note that Democratic Councilwoman-at-Large (and opponent to Okey for the council presidency) presented the award to Simone.

Should he and Okey get elected, look for Simone to work with Republicans on council to keep Okey in check.

Probably another likelihood of coming out of the November election for a second term as councilman-at-large is Republican Roger Rhome.

However, of the three Republicans running, one Alliance Republican source tells the SCPR that Rhome is the most likely to lose.

And that assessment makes sense.

Republican Jim Edwards has been a member of the Alliance City Schools Board of Education since 2000, which, as far as the SCPR determine is far longer than Rhome has been in Alliance public life.

Another interesting thing about Alliance's council at large races is the candidacy of "Democrat" David M. Smith.

The SCPR puts Democrat in quote marks because of a highly credible source says that he was uncertain as whether to run as a Democrat, Republican or independent.

He decided obviously to run as a Democrat on purportedly being told that the Democrat label would enhance his electability.

The Report is told that the main impetus for his running is his quarrel with Alliance City Council on council having voted down a proposal brought to the floor of council by Steve Okey to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at Alliance Downtown Commission sponsored events.

Accordingly, the SCPR's source thinks it is likely that Smith would be an Okey ally if he were elected and, of course, if Okey survives his challenge from Art Garnes.

As readers of The Report knows, yours truly surfaces in those venues (i.e. at Stark County political subdivision [cities, villages, township and boards of education) in which their are controversies brewing.

By and large (except for Okey's inaugural meeting as Alliance Dems appointed council president) Alliance meeting have been on the placid side.

It could be that all that is about to change.

An "elected" Steve Okey, the SCPR thinks, will be a much more "activist" President of Council Steve Okey.

And, of course, if a majority of Republicans are elected and, if a Democrat such as Brian Simone is elected, watch out for the fireworks, no?


When Andrew Zumbar was elected Alliance Municipal Court judge in 2013, Jenn Arnold became his replacement as Alliance law director in early 2014.

Zumbar had been law director for 18 years.

Arnold, the SCPR is told, was Zumbar's hand picked successor.

It is interesting to note that Zumbar had not had opposition for election as law director going back to 1995 when he defeated Democrat Robert Stone.

So it had to be somewhat surprising for many in Alliance to see this publication from the Stark County Board of Elections at the end of business on February 4th:

But it was not surprising to the SCPR.

The Report received a head ups prior to the filing deadline about Democrat Mark Whitaker having taken out petitions and that his doing so had more to it than a typical "the best time to run for an office is when the person holding it is freshly appointed."

From what the SCPR can determine from "multiple" sources is that there is a lot of dissatisfaction with Arnold in how she has functioned as law director and comported herself in social media.

As the campaign evolves, of course, the SCPR will be in the lead of all Stark County media in digging out all the political nitty-gritty that makes for interesting and informative reading on the part of Alliance, Canton, Massillon, North Canton and, indeed, all Stark County residents.

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