On "the morning after" it is apparent to The Stark County Political Report that Canton mayor William J. Healy, II likely escaped with his "political" life hanging in the balance" on the shoulders of Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack and Ward 7 Councilman John Mariol.
And, perhaps, you can add to - those of Mack and Mariol; the shoulders of Frank Morris, III of Ward 9, Greg Hawk (Ward 1 - Can you believe that?) and, of course, Healy's automatics Thomas West of Ward 2 and Chris Smith of Ward 4.
In terms of either turning numbers positive for Healy or lessening the loss to Perhaps, it does seem that the last ditch effort helped.
According to a conversation that the SCPR had with Councilmen Mack and Mariol (in a telephone call made at Mack's initiative), it became worrisome whether or not Healy was going to survive yesterday's primary challenge about a month or so ago.
Hold on there a minute Olson: What prompted the Mack telephone call in the first place?
It was the SCPR campaign finance (TeamHealy) analytic blog of May 4th that triggered Councilman Mack to contact yours truly with an explanation for the interesting graphic The Report put up showing five Healy "expenditures" of $500 each to:
- Ward 3 council candidate Ryan Brahler (who, fortunately - the SCPR thinks - for Cantonians lost big last night)
- Ward 8 Councilman Mack,
- Ward 7 Councilman Mariol,
- Ward 2 Councilman West, and
- Ward 4 Councilwoman Smith
Some people might find campaign finance report (CFRs) to be BORING, BORING and BORING some more.
But not the SCPR.
Many who do take a look at CFRs focus on the contributions.
That is a mistake.
Expenditures can be even more revealing than contributions.
In FOLLOWING THE MONEY the SCPR found it very interesting that Healy could get 60% plus of campaign contributions (the pre-primary reporting cycle) from contributors living outside the city of Canton and 25% or so from contributors living outside of Ohio and still with a straight face run for mayor of Canton.
Perhaps even more interesting were the contributions to the campaigns (as such they are) to Councilman Mack (unopposed in the primary and November, Council Mariol, Councilman West and Councilwoman Smith (unopposed in November).
As council campaigns go, $500 is a pretty BIG contribution.
Immediately it occurred to yours truly that something was up.
For starters though, the contributions raised "a red flag" to The Report that with the financial cozying up of Healy with councilpersons was a danger that he was trying to obliterate the "separation of powers" role of council vis-a-vis the mayor and the May 4th blog addressed that concern, to wit:
A lo and behold! comes the Mack (with Mariol as a third party on the line) telephone call yesterday with the Paul Harvey-ish "rest of the story."
It seems as if Mack, Maroil and others became concerned about a month ago or so that Healy was heading to defeat at the hands of Kim Perez if something was not done in Wards 7, 8 and 9 to stop the Perez "picking up steam" campaign.
From yesterday's conversation, it appears that Councilman Mack cobbled together an effort involving himself, Mariol, Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris, III and - of all people - Ward 1 councilman Greg Hawk.
Okay, Olson hold it there "one more time!"
Councilman Greg Hawk part of an effort to salvage the mayoralty of William J. Healy, II?
You have to be kidding? For it was Healy who had to be behind the move that put Hawk out of his treasured chairmanship of council's finance committee in the aftermath of the November, 2011 elections, no?"
Answer: You know the adage - "politics makes for strange bedfellows."
As Mack explained it yesterday, he, Mariol and others on council think that Canton is making real progress in getting Canton moving forward in the right direction and their perception was that were Perez to be elected all of that was going to get derailed.
Missing from the group of Healy rescuers is Ward 5 councilman Kevin Fisher.
He has in the past been closely allied with Perez inasmuch as he worked for Perez when he was county auditor (2004 through 2010).
It appears he took a neutral stance in the Healy/Perez match up of yesterday.
As the SCPR has written frequently since their election in 2011 in dubbing them "the four young turks," Mack, Mariol Morris and Kevin Fisher (Ward 5) coming on council was a significant turn of events highly positive for Canton in terms of their united common purpose of turning Canton around from the disastrously flailing about and seeming directionless track of the Healy administration in combination with a leaderless Canton City Council.
And Councilman Mack is among the SCPR's "Top 10 List" of effective Stark County political/governmental leaders.
In the past, "the four young turks" and Councilman Hawk have not hesitated to take public exception to Mayor Healy on various nonsensical proposals he has advanced.
So the tale that the SCPR has told is a living testament to the adage cited above that "politics makes for strange bedfellows."
There is moreover one more troubling aspect to the Healy campaign council member contributions to at very least to members Mack and Mariol in that they incurred considerable expense in advancing the Healy cause and there is speculation that the reason that Healy made the contributions was to offset some of the expenses engendered.
If one agrees that "the save Healy" Mack initiative was instrumental in keeping the mayor on track to continue in office; then the work is hardly done.
The question is this: Can Healy hold together his coalition which the SCPR now dubs as being "the Mack Pack?"
For now, look for the political relationship to continue.
At least until it becomes clear whether or not filed independent candidate Thomas Bernabei (now a sitting Stark County commissioner) can overcome "sure to come" legal challenges as to whether or not residency/party affiliation factors prevent him from maintaining his candidacy.
If he does, what to look for is whether or not "the Mack Pack" will stay with the mayor.
If "the four young turks" and Councilman Hawk bolt either to a neutral status (the more likely scenario) or actually cross over to support Bernabei; then it will be appropriate to surmise: the mayoralty of William J. Healy, II is toast.
For then the shoulders will be gone and the mayor has been politically weakened so dramatically over his nearly eight years in office (one screw up after another screw up after another screw up) that it is hard to see how he can survive.