Last Monday (March 23, 2015), The Stark County Political Report started a new feature: Stark County Top 10 Leaders.
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 presentations on:
- Stark County's #1 leader; namely, Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei, and
- Stark County's #2 leader; namely, Massillon Councilwoman Nancy Halter,
- Stark County's #3 leader; namely, Canton Councilman Edmond Mack,
- Stark County's #4 leader; namely, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold,
- Stark County's #5 leader; namely, Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar,
- Stark County's #6 leader; namely, Canton City Councilman Richard Hart,
- Stark County #7 leader; namely, Alliance City Councilwoman Julie Jakmides,
- Stark County #8 leader; namely, Massillon City Councilman Paul Manson,
As readers will note, the first quarterly SCPR Stark County Top 10 Leaders List is dominated by councilpersons.
So it is with some degree of relief that The Report today includes on the List a municipal chief executive.
Of Stark County's major city (Alliance, Canton, Massillon and North Canton) only Alan Andreani of Alliance merits selection.
He ranks first on Stark's major city mayors with the rest following far behind in terms of being anywhere near the Top 10 List but on a relative basis just in "the mayor category" William J. Healy, II of Canton second, David Held of North Canton third and Kathy Catazaro-Perry bringing up the rear as being, in the assessment of the SCPR, an inept mayor.
Healy is improving but Held and Catazaro-Perry seem to have no chance whatsoever of ever gracing the Top 10 List.
In his own words, from the Alliance city government website, Alan Andreani describes himself:
I became Mayor of the City of Alliance January 1, 2012.
(a SCPR insert)
(apparently, to be unopposed in 2015)
Prior to my public service to the City of Alliance, I was the superintendent of the Marlington Local Schools and also held other leadership and administrative positions with the school for twenty-two years including assistant superintendent, elementary and secondary curriculum director, business manager, high school principal, and Washington Elementary principal.Before entering the administrative roles I served as a science instructor at Marlington High School.
Following my career in public education I became an adjunct professor at the University of Mount Union. During my ten years there I served in the Department of Education where I taught a variety of courses as well as supervising student teachers.
I was appointed to Alliance City Council in February of 2004 when the Honorable Dixie Park was appointed Stark County Probate Judge. I was re-elected three times to the Council-at-Large position where I served as the Chairman of City Council’s Safety and Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Finance and Utilities Committees.
My education training includes a doctorate in educational leadership from Youngstown State University.I also received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters degree from Kent State University. I am a graduate of Alliance High School.
I am honored to continue my family’s tradition of service to our hometown as its Mayor. My family has been blessed to live and work in this community for many decades. I look forward to continuing the progress of the past and to lead Alliance to a prosperous future.
It was not long after becoming mayor that Andreani faced a fiscal crisis somewhat similar to Massillon's. However, this chief executive has had the wherewithal to keep Alliance from being named by the State of Ohio Auditor's Office as being in fiscal emergency.
For he not playing politics with the future of the city by setting himself as being some sort of savior figure as The Report thinks Massillon's mayor (Kathy Catazaro-Perry) is doing in billing herself as coming to the financial/fiscal rescue of a city that she herself pushed the state officials into designating as being in fiscal emergency and thereby humiliating the once proud city of Massillon.
And make no mistake about it, Alliance is stressed financially and fiscally.
But Alliance's skillful CEO, a Republican, is working with the Democrats and his fellow Republicans on council (a body he was one a member of) to steer Alliance through the crisis which was pretty much the doing of the State of Ohio.
The SCPR thinks that Alliance's problems are largely the results of huge state funding cuts to local governments (i.e. dramatic cuts in "local government funds," the elimination of the estate tax and the like) with the election of Republican governor John Kasich in 2010 (reelected in 2014) and the lopsided Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly.
Back in October, 2013 the SCPR spoke with Andreani, Councilman Larry Dordea and Alliance's auditor Kevin Knowles about an impending levy.
Unfortunately for Alliance, the levy failed in the November, 2013 election.
Different from Massillon's Mayor Kathy, Mayor Andreani had not engaged Alliance City Council in "a blame game."
Rather he presented and continues to present a different model.
He has worked diligently with Alliance City Council to steer Alliance through the tough fiscal times brought on by the Republicans in charge in the Ohio State House.
If Andreani is to be faulted for anything, it is his apparent failure to get the faces of fellow Republicans Kasich and Stark County Republican members of the Ohio General Assembly (namely, Scott Oelslager, Kirk Schuring and Christina Hagan [of Marlboro Township and who represents Alliance]) jawboning them to restore state monies to localities such as Alliance.
Normally, the SCPR is bullish on the likes of Steve Okey (a Democrat) being part of the political mix in a given community as an accountability factor on government especially when the government is the captive of the opposite political party as is the case with Republicans controlling the executive branch of Alliance government.
However, The Report trusts in the case of Okey that Alliance voters will see fit to remove him from being president of Alliance City Council.
Democrat Sue Ryan a councilperson for a number of terms in Alliance would have been a much better choice for the presidency in terms of not letting politics been a factor in the function of the office.
Being the consummate politico the SCPR thinks he is, Okey who the SCPR thinks engaged in some major political arm twisting with the aid of former Stark County Dems chairmen Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and more recently Randy Gonzalez, "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat" at the last moment when about a year ago Okey wrestled the Alliance Dems' Central Committee appointment to replace longtime president John Benincasa who had passed away away from Ryan.
Almost immediately, as the SCPR predicted he would do; Okey engaged a confrontation with Alliance City Council over the manner in which council voted (unsigned ballots) on certain issue. It was an issue that he filed a lawsuit against council on a motivation (The Report thinks) to embarrass Republican councilman Larry Dordea in his race against Okey political protege George T. Maier for sheriff of Stark County.
While the SCPR agrees that council's manner of voting was unacceptable in our democratic-republican form of government; a seemingly politically inspired Steve Okey who had participated in the very same unacceptable procedure as a councilman himself nor his political sycophant friend Derek Loy were hardly the appropriate persons to push the issue.
Some good citizen of Alliance who was not into partisan politics for political advantage needed to step forward and demand that the practice stop and stop immediately.
So it was heartwarming to learn that Mayor Andreani went out a recruited a former popular Alliance superintendent of schools to run against Okey for the council presidency.
The recruit, Arthur Garnes, as a longtime educator, as is Andreani, is much more suited to keep politics in their proper place than is the highly politicized Okey.
While Okey has been on his best behavior ever since his confrontation with council (which resulted in his being censored by council) back in June, 2014.
However, the SCPR's take is that should Okey be elected; he would take same to be license to become a partisan troublemaker on council.
Again, to say. Folks like Okey can be important assets to keep government accountable. But the SCPR doesn't think Okey has the self-discipline to keep political factors on the back burner.
In recruiting Garnes, Andreani may have spared Alliance residents having to endure pitched battles between the presidential chair, the rest of council and the chief executive of the city.
For the forgoing reasons, the SCPR sees Alan Andreani as the ONLY Stark County major city mayor deserving of being #9 on the SCPR's Stark County Top 10 Leadership List.
Next up, finally a township official makes the Top 10 list.
Stark County has 71 elected township officials and yet only one makes the Top 10 List?