Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Yesterday, the The Stark County Political Report started a new feature.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentation on:
Today, Councilwoman Nancy Halter (of Massillon) is presented as the SCPR's #2 ranked leader within Stark County Political Subdivision government.

Born March 28, 1940.
Married Ronald Halter June 17, 1961.
Two sons, Martin and Ted. 
Church affliation: St. Joseph Catholic
Church Education:  St. Marys Elementary School.        
Central Catholic High School, Class of 1958.
Manager - The Massillon Club - Nov. 1999 - July, 2005 
Events Director: Massillon Area Chamber of commerce -April-1992---Nov. 1999 
Stark Cooling & Heating, Inc. - April-1985 -- April 1992

Demmer Hardware, Inc - Aug. 1980 -- April, 1985 
Halter's Party Line - Halter's Bridal Studio - Sept. - 1969 - 1980 
While at the Chamber - I scheduled & organized all Chamber Breakfasts with's, Let's Do Lunches & business After Hours.  Worked very close with Massillon Alive, Pride In Appearance. 4th of July, & Tourism committees, the Business Education/Advisory Council & the Massillon Main Street. I was the Events Director for the Ohio All Star Football Classic, directing all of the events associated with the 10 day Classic.  In that capacity I worked very closely with the Ohio High School Coaches Association.  
After  I left the Chamber, the Coaches asked me to stay on & in 2001, in Columbus - they presented me with an award that read "Nancy Halter - the first lady of the Ohio All Star Classic"  In sincere appreciation for your tireless efforts in working with Ohio's All-Star High School Football players. Presented June 30, 2001.   I AM MOST PROUD OF THIS AWARD. 
Served as co-chairman & chairman of Massillon Relay for Life. 
Served on Massillon City Council Council-at-Large for 5 years. 
Westark Republican woman President for 2 terms. 
Stark County Republican of the Year 1999.
Massillon Republican Volunteer of the year 1999.
Woman of the year Award from the YWCA Academy of Women for Business/Law/Government 1997.
(SCPR Note:  Above biographical material extracted from larger body of information provided by Councilwoman Halter).

Going back to her election in November, 2011 for a second stint as a Massillon councilperson (the first being in the late 1990s), The Report recognizes that she put together a group of Republican candidates for Massillon City Council that surprised Stark County's political pundits in that she thereby engineered a Republican takeover of council all to the betterment of Massillon's government.

Political competition is the lifeblood of check and balance government.

Canton City Council suffers because there is no political competition from the GOP in the Hall of Fame city.  The general public has to rely on Democrats fighting among themselves.  And some of that does happen, but not nearly enough.

Registration wise, Massillon is predominantly Democratic.

But you would not know that from the make up of council.

Especially so in 2011 as a consequence of Halter's work:

  • Ward 1 - Republican Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly,
  • Ward 2 - Republican Nancy Halter,
  • Ward 3 - Democrat Andrea Scassa,
  • Ward 4 - Democrat Tony Townsend,
  • Ward 5 - Republican Donnie Peters,
  • Ward 6 - Ed Lewis, IV,
  • Council-at-Large:  Republican Milan Chovan,
  • Council-at-Large:  Democrat Larry Slagle, and
  • Council-at-Large:  Paul Manson
In 2011, Massillon Maier Political Machine mayoralty candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry ran against long time incumbent mayor (28 years) Frank Cicchinelli and defeated him in the 2011 Democratic primary.

One thing that Maier and sidekick Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark County Dems) lost sight of in their zeal to elect Catazaro-Perry was the make up of Massillon City Council.

It appears that it never occurred to them that former council member Halter was catch them napping.  And, indeed, she did.

Halter went out and recruited the likes of Milan Chovan, Ed Lewis, IV, Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly and of course herself to run in 2011 and the results were stunning.

Massillon's Republicans with very little if any help from the "organized" Stark County Republican Party administered one of the most embarrassing political defeats ever suffered by Maier et al.

So "in the making of the 'political' pudding" you have an interesting set up.

A formidable political machine supported mayor who has to deal with a Republican controlled city council.

The SCPR was really excited about the conflict that was sure to develop given the partisan divide, no?

Well, think again.

The first overture from the Republican controlled council to the new mayor was let's not have political warfare, let's work together for the betterment of Massillon.

But Catazaro-Perry, a disciple of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and political power politician Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (also Massillon clerk of courts), was having none of it.

From the get-go, the mayor made it clear; "its my way or the highway."  Taking a page out of the political playbook of Maier himself.

Consequently, since January 1, 2012 through today, Mayor Kathy and Massillon City Council have agreed on little on key substantive issues and therefore Massillon is stagnating if not declining notwithstanding the cheerleading mode that the mayor is in.

The SCPR thinks that Catazaro-Perry humiliated and embarrassed this once proud city in insisting even before she took office that the State of Ohio declare that the city be designated as being in fiscal emergency.

Nancy Halter for one had to be totally put off by the new mayor's action.

For as Halter's biography shows, she has put many, many, many hours in over many years (as part of a Massillon community effort) to build Massillon up only to have it ripped asunder "in one fell swoop by an outsider (she came from Perry Township).

As it turns out, the State uses six criteria to determine whether or not a city is in fiscal crisis.  And Massillon barely fit into one of the six on State of Ohio Auditor Steve Yost acceding to the Catazaro-Perry wish.

Isn't that bizarre?

The placement of Massillon in fiscal emergency is one of the key battlegrounds in which the mayor and council have battled.

Because Massillon is in fiscal emergency, the mayor and council need to agree on a "restoration" plan or face 15% across-the-board cuts to all departments of Massillon government.

Catazaro-Perry (grudgingly) and council recently formulated a second restoration plan after the first (also agreed to after much acrimony between the mayor and council) failed in November, 2014 with the overwhelming defeat of an income tax increase among other measures.

While the obvious leader of Massillon's council Republicans is Councilman Ed Lewis, IV (Ward 6; running at-large in this year's election), the SCPR's read is that Councilwoman Nancy Halter - though largely behind the scenes - is the equal of if not the superior to Lewis in terms of influencing the stances of council on various key issues.

The SCPR sees Lewis as the public face of the Republican side of council whereas Paul Manson appears to be the Democratic councilmantic spokesperson.

It appears that there is very little if any political difference between the Republicans and Democrats on council (SCPR note:  non-Maier Democrats regained control of council in the 2013 elections) and, except for the likes of Shaddrick Stinson (Ward 4 Democrat), most votes garner across-the-aisle support on key substantive issues that council has vis-a-vis the mayor.

Though the SCPR sees Halter as a behind-the-scenes de facto council leader, she has taken on one substantive issue very publicly:  that being strengthening of and enforcement of Massillon's housing code.

One bane of many of an American city is that political and government leadership has allowed citizens to ignore keeping a obligation under city housing codes to keep their properties in repair.

Nancy's sterling housing code legislation, if properly implemented, will help lessen the neighborhood blight that Massillon incurs as compared to other cities, one, of course, being Canton which has about 4,000 residential units decayed to the point that demolishing them is the only recourse left.

Here is a YouTube LINK featuring a number of Massillon political and government officials including Councilwoman Halter.

In reaching out "across-the-aisle" to Catazaro-Perry on her initially becoming mayor, Councilwoman Halter (who was once a Democrat herself) demonstrated responsible and exemplary leadership.

Moreover, while the mayor pretty much sat on her duff during two prior levy attempts (the latter of which was part of the first restoration plan), Halter joined with her fellow council members in trying the persuade Massillonians to raise taxes (except for a parks and recreation levy) since the late 1970s.

There is no doubt about it, Halter is a committed Republican.

However, she does not allow her political preference to interfere with working with the mayor and her fellows on council to bring better times to the citizens of Massillon.

Regretfully, Councilwoman has sustained some health issues recently and therefore has decided not to seek another term on council.

However, the SCPR believes that there are councilpersons who will be continuing on beyond December 31st who will carry the Nancy Halter "responsible" and "mature" style of leadership going forward.

The mayor who is a few years younger than Councilwoman Halter would do herself a lot of good in following the Halter model of leadership.

Though she leaves council on December 31st, one has to believe that Nancy will continue working behind the scenes in her unofficial capacity to ensure that Massillon continues on its path to restoration of a semblance of Massillon of yore.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilwoman Nancy Halter is named #2 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Coming up tomorrow.  SCPR Top 10 list leader #3.

Hint:  From the plethora of young leadership on Canton City Council.

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