CANTON MUNICIPAL COURT CANDIDATES
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY MAY 5, 2015
HOST: NORTHERN STARK COUNTY DEMS
APRIL 09, 2015
APRIL 09, 2015
STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT
ANALYSIS OF CANDIDATES
IN TODAY'S UPDATE
Qualifications to be Judge
Qualifications to be JudgeThe Stark County Political Report commends the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party ("Party;" specifically, the "Northern Stark County Democratic Party" [NSCDP]) for putting together and hosting - not a debate - but a "get to know our candidates" event at the Stark County Democratic Party's new headquarters site in Oakwood Square on Easton Street in Plain Township last evening.
The Party itself did not give the SCPR a "heads up" on the event but rather one of Stark County civic/ political activists who constitute a rich, rich, rich resource of tips, information and notice on which yours truly develops many of blogs which appear in these pages.
Likely the Party officialdom has highly charged mixed feelings about The Report.
As regular readers know, some of the most scalding criticism of those officials as well as those of the "organized" Stark County Republican Pary come from one and only one source; namely, The Stark County Political Report.
Many, but not all of those officials, try to make it personal.
But those who know Martin Olson know and understand that the critiques are designed to have political party officials look inward on their leadership qualities and lack thereof and the qualities of their loyalists in a sincere effort to ferret out the manipulative and develop an authentic basis on which to relate to the larger Stark County voting public.
On the "mixed feelings" thing and "on the other hand" - as a balance to the criticism - both the Dems and the GOP know that The Stark County Political Report in the only Stark County media outlet to delve in depth into the qualities of the candidates the parties offer up to the Stark County voting public for consideration of getting the voters' vote.
Either the Dems, the Republicans, the Libertarians or any other political grouping or individual candidates or issue promoters miss a terrific opportunity to get their message to the Stark County Political when they fail to notice and/or invite yours truly to their event - not as a supporter, but as a independent minded political analyst.
The SCPR does show up at political party public events when informed of their existence (provided there is no conflict with other SCPR obligations) so as to provide the Stark County voting public with information on which to determine whom to vote for.
The Report's experience is that Stark's "organized" Democrats are much more accommodating to the eye of the SCPR camera than are the Republicans.
However, the Jefferson-Jackson Democrats have banned the SCPR's camera from their meetings at which candidates "for public office" make presentations.
Moreover, the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr faction of the Stark County Democratic Party issue strict instructions to Maier, Jr's loyalists not to deal with the SCPR.
What a bunch of insecure politicos, no?
The Republicans banned the SCPR camera after the Phil Davison video went viral on the Internet back in September, 2010 as the former Minerva councilman made an "over-the-top" partisan Republican pitch in quest of being named the Republican candidate for Stark County treasurer when the-then Stark County commissioners unconstitutionally (reference: Ohio Supreme Court decision, June, 2011) removed then-treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office.
Yours truly believes that the Stark GOP sent an emissary to the SCPR with a mission to quash the Davison video.
Anybody who knows yours truly knows that that was a mission bound for unequivocal rejection.
After that episode, Stark GOP chairman Jeff Matthews banned the SCPR's camera from future Stark Republican Party events. However, the print media is allowed to have their notepad in hand at such events.
Those who frequent the SCPR will note that the SCPR camera is the "more accurate" version of the notepad.
It is interesting to note that Matthews is reported to have said after Republican Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton made an awe-inspiring speech on behalf of the Kasich for Governor campaign in 2014: "Where is Martin when you need him?."
What a hypocrite, no?
What the Jefferson-Jackson Dems and GOP Chairman Matthews and the Maier, Jr. Dems need to square up with is that it is not the SCPR that they are punishing for showcasing the truth about their candidates but it is the Stark County voting public who is being deprived of seeing the folks for what they really are.
It is difficult to understand how the Jefferson-Jackson Dems, Matthews and Maier, Jr think their conduct vis-a-vis the SCPR is consistent with democratic-republican values of our great nation.
Notwithstanding the censoring, the denial of access; the SCPR has many sources located throughout Stark County who provide "inside" information as to the seamier side of Stark County political party politics.
The Report likes to kid Maier brother and Stark County sheriff George T.Maier on being elected in November, 2015 that one of the first hires he needed to hire was a plumber inasmuch as there are many, many political leaks to the SCPR emanating from his offices to The Report.
The Report is not primarily a "report the facts" type of journalistic effort.
Primarily, the SCPR is an column or if you will an "opinion blog" which The Report works very hard to develop factual information (not factual as in "handed down from God," but in as what the numbers show, what somebody has said in a SCPR "on camera" or as reported in other media, and the like) in support of The Report's opinion.
Make no mistake about it.
The SCPR is out to convince readers that yours truly's opinion on issues, candidates and Stark County political and governmental happenings is an opinion which ought to influence if not convince SCPR readers
It may have been by happenstance, but Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis (an announced Guarado supporter) and by implication his brother Phil who is the Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts and chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party outdid themselves in coming up with bringing high quality Canton Municipal Court judicial candidates Kristen Guardado and Angela Alexander before the NSCDP political subgroup.
The photograph of Kristen Guardado and Angela Alexander shaking hands at the behest of yours truly was asked for because of the manner in which both candidates handled themselves last night.
Moreover, the SCPR was impressed with how NSCDP honcho Louis Giavasis directed the event.
As introduced by Giavasis, each candidate was to take four minutes to do general introduction and then the forum was to be opened up for questions.
Well, a problem developed immediately.
Candidate Alexander took way over four minutes as the start off candidate to present her introduction material.
One could see Giavasis getting just a little itchy about the overrun.
But he maintained his cool until Alexander took all the time she wanted to make her presentation.
Guardado was much more in tune with the four minute thing.
The Report did the foregoing run through of seemingly trivia for two reasons.
First, to complement Giavasis for maintaining his composure during an obviously trying time for him.
Second, to alert the SCPR video viewers of the candidates' presentation that The Report has trimmed and therefore necessarily edited Alexander's presentation to be the equal (time wise) to that of Guardado.
Hopefully, if there are future appearances by the duo - at other events between now and May 5th, - they will self-discipline to follow the announced format and thereby empower the media present to report "all" that was said.
In fairness to Candidate Guardado, the SCPR feels compelled to size-down Alexander's video to about 9 minutes and 35 seconds.
Before getting into a presentation of SCPR videos from last evening, The Report pauses to compliment Ms. Alexander and Ms. Guardado for the civility if not friendliness expressed towards one another.
Neither attacked the other politically nor the qualities that each brings to the race.
Rather each "put her best foot forward" in terms of offering positive reasons as a basis upon which those gathered last night and those viewing the SCPR videos can be persuaded to vote for the respective presenter.
Had she not taken "the high road," Candidate Guardado might well have jumped all over Alexander for having most of her judicial preparatory legal experience in Summit County whereas she has all of her experience in Stark County.
To The Report, Ms. Guardado thereby demonstrated that she has a measured temperament which is a highly desired quality in who serves as a judge.
One of the problems with the person who retired/resigned (Judge Stephen Belden) and thereby provided the opportunity for Alexander, Guardado and Republican appointee Curtis Werren to contend for a Canton Municipal Court judgeship was that he is alleged to have lacked measured judicial temperament that most lawyers and judges think one should have when dispensing justice in the American system of justice.
Now onto the videos.
First up on video is Kristen Guardado.
Next up is Angela Alexander.
CANDIDATE Q&A SESSION
SCPR ANALYSIS OF CANDIDATE PRESENTATIONS
Candidate Alexander made a major mistake in "gilding the lily" in her response to criticisms that when compared to opponent Kristen Guardado she does not have an adequate Stark County professional legal connection to merit Democratic voter selection over Guardado.
The Northern Stark County Democratic Club (NSCDC) forum guidelines spelled out by club leader Louis Giavasis called for each candidate to speak in an introductory fashion for four minutes and then take questions written out beforehand by audience members.
Well, neither of the criteria took hold.
On the four minute rule, Alexander seemingly went on ad nauseam (probably about 20 minutes) mostly dwelling on justifications as to why she doesn't have have much of a Stark County legal profession connection (most of it being in Summit County) but nonetheless because of personal connections with Stark County merits consideration by Canton Municipal Court District voters, that is to say to voters living in the following communities:
as being the equivalent of Guardado.
The written questions thing because Ohio Supreme Court rules are strict on what a judicial candidate can and cannot say during a campaign did not work because attendees apparently wrote no questions out to be screened for rule compliance.
Nevertheless, the candidates did field questions and there were no rule offending questions.
Alexander was doing reasonably well in her endeavor to convince that she had no alternative to embark on her legal career in Summit (i.e. she was a single mom in need of a job and the Summit job was the first available) and that she has stayed the professional development course in Summit because Summit is where advancement opportunities opened up given her growing competence as an attorney in the Summit venue which was picked up on by Summit County officials who provided her with promotions.
Had she cut the account summarized above short at that, Alexander would have made the best of her situation.
But she didn't.
She went on and on and on and on in that vein and thereby inadvertently emphasized that she cannot match up with Kristen Guardado on that point.
It also needs to be pointed out that on her Facebook page, on her website and on campaign literature she focuses all too much on her Summit County professional legal background and connections.
Guardado, on the other hand, played it very smart on Thursday evening.
She just sat patiently and let Alexander go on and on and on about a topic that will play big in the outcome of the Alexander/Guardado match up.
But she never said a word about the obvious Alexander weakness. And the SCPR thinks she never will in public. If she is really smart, she will not say anything in private either.
You can be sure that Guardado supporters without prompting by Guardado will, or perhaps have already started a whisper campaign to the effect that Alexander not home-grown legal professional.
To be sure, Angela Alexander is a well qualified judicial candidate.
Her emphasis should of been: "My experience, my growing expertise (without constantly repeating the Summit County factor), my performance recognized in the form of a prestigious award exudes a highly merited person to be a Stark County-based judge."
Her punch line should have been somewhat along the lines: "After all is said and done, folks. The most important thing is for we Democrats to nominate the most merited candidate. And I think I have laid out a case, in all due respect to Kristen Guardado, that I am that person."
And she flirted with making such a case.
Alexander compared herself to the recently elected Democrat Chryssa Hartnett as Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge on a number of levels.
She did touch on Harnett obvious stark qualification advantage over Curtis Werren in her victorious November, 2014 win over him.
By the way, the victor of the Guardado/Alexander face off will go up against Werren in November of this year. Werren was appointed a second time as judge by Republican governor John Kasich in January.
However, the qualitative legal difference between Hartnett and Werren was clearly in Hartnett's favor. Such is not the case in a comparison between Alexander and Guardado.
The SCPR could not quarrel with anyone who wanted to assess that Guardado is more legal profession merited than Alexander.
The merit of the these two candidates is a close call.
So all in all the Alexander/Hartnett comparison was probably a mistake. Especially on the Stark County connection thing.
While Hartnett is not as Stark County native (Alexander is), the bulk of her legal career if not all of it is Stark County-based and Alexander's is not.
Former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez- who the SCPR thinks is clearly a Guardado supporter but he did not disclaim on the matter - asked an interesting question directed only to Alexander.
Why, he asked, (acknowledging Alexander's excellent credentials) didn't she run against an unopposed Republican (Kristin Farmer, also, like Werren a Governor Kasich appointee) in the November, 2014 election for the Stark County Court of Common Pleas judgeship?
This was a set up question if the SCPR has ever heard one.
Alexander made a plausible response.
Had Gonzalez wanted to be fair about it, he should have addressed the question to Guardado also. There is no reason why she shouldn't have considered not leaving Kristin Farmer unopposed.
And to carry this discussion one step further, why didn't Gonzalez know about Alexander and her interest in running for a Stark County-based judgeship and recruit her to do so.
Alexander put Gonzalez to shame the SCPR thinks in talking about how utterly competitive Summit County judgeship races are whereas many, many Stark County judgeships go uncontested.
And who has been Stark County Democratic Party chairman or a top level Democratic leader all the while? You've got it. None other than Randy Gonzalez.
It has amazing to the SCPR:
- that he had the gall to ask such a question in the first place given his recruitment track record,
- not direct the question to Guardado also, and
- not having declared his support for Guardado
But in reality nothing surprises the SCPR about the hubris of Randy Gonzalez.
As seen in the Guardado video, she played it safe in her presentation.
While Alexander has some impressive Canton City Council member endorsements especially that of council president Allen Schulman and the endorsement of Mayor William J. Healy, II, it is clear to the SCPR that Kristen Guardado is the choice of the overwhelming majority of Stark County's leading elected and office holding Democrats.
Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei is her campaign treasurer and her current boss is Canton law director Joseph Martuccio who will himself be on the May 5th ballot and who was in attendance in obvious support of Guardado on Thursday night.
It is clear to The Stark County Political Report that Kristen Guardado will be the choice of Canton Municipal Court District Democrats to take on Republican Curtis Werren in November.
And the SCPR thinks she will go on in November to make Werren a two time loser.
The lingering question is: What will become of the the highly qualified and impressive Angela Alexander.
Nobody knows what will happen in terms of judgeships opening up in Canton and at the county level going foward.
Republican Richard Kubilus who attended Guardado's March fundraiser has told the SCPR that he is undecided whether or not he will seek a new term in 2017.
Moreover, one has to wonder whether or not Democrat John Haas (age 71) will serve out his full term which expires on April 15, 2019?
Haas cannot, due to age restrictions (70 and above), run for reelection.
Alexander indicated on Thursday that when she picked up the newspaper when Stephen Belden retired/resigned recently from Canton Municipal Court bench, she immediately started pondering whether or not to plant her legal career flag in her home county Stark County.
Was this decision one of sheer political opportunism?
Or is she really, really intent on bringing her magnificent legal profession qualifications home to Stark County?
If she is, she will implement preparing herself through shifting her legal career from Summit to Stark County and thereby be in a more viable position to challenge for a Stark County-base judgeship.
As pointed out in a prior SCPR blog, Stark County needs to have African American representation on the Stark County bench.
Angela Alexander is a high quality lawyer who is ideally situated to fill that void.
But will she make the shift?
If she doesn't, it will be "deja vu all over again" in a future campaign.