Friday, May 1, 2015


UPDATED:  05:30 PM










WARD 6   

One of the truisms in politics is that "money wins political campaigns."

In Canton city politics, if that is true then either veteran Councilman Bill Smuckler or former Councilwoman Mary Cirelli are going to be "the odd person out" in a four person race for three available spots in the Stark Democratic Party primary election which will conclude on Tuesday.

For neither has filed a campaign finance report (CFR) for the pre-primary election fundraising period ending April 15, 2015 and to be filed not later than April 23 meaning that neither raised $1,000 nor spent $1,000 thereby necessitating, in either case, the filing of a timely report presuming that they are not afoul of campaign finance election law.

And such presumes that the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) has accurately provided to the SCPR copies of duly filed CFRs.

BOE records show that the following contested Canton and Massillon city council primary election candidates (all Democratic, by the way) have filed CFRs.

In today's blog, the SCPR shares with readers some interesting tidbits revealed in the campaign finance reports filed with (or lack thereof) the BOE in contested races.



Filing reports were incumbent Jimmy Babcock and newbie (as far as Canton City Council is concerned) but political warhorse in terms of having been a multi-term Canton Municipal Court
clerk of courts and Stark County commissioner Tom Harmon.

Babcock who the SCPR thinks contributes very little in terms of adding value by virtue of his presence on Canton City Council is impressive as a pre-primary fundraiser and as Canton council's best dressed councilperson.

Babcock is a favorite of Stark County's organized labor as shown by the detailed list of his pre-primary supporters.

Also interesting is the appearance of former Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley on his list.  Bosley has appeared on a number of lists this reporting cycle.

Is Bosley preparing for a reappearance on Stark County's political scene?

In pre-primary CFR filings, Babcock is far and away the most prolific fundraiser.

Does this mean that he is a shoe-in for one of the three Democratic Party nominations?


But he will likely be the number 3 of 3.


Former councilwoman Mary Cirelli apparently isn't doing all that well raising campaign funds.

Does that mean she is the odd person out?


But its likely not only the money factor.  She got drubbed by Kim Perez in the Canton city treasurer's race when she decided in 2013 not to run for re-election as a councilwoman-at-large for the comfy position as treasurer.

Wasn't that a big miscalculation.

She has her devotees, but it appears to the SCPR that this election could be "the end of the 'political' line" for Mary and her patented "red" outfits.


Bill Smuckler (who also did not raise the $1,000 minimum in order not to have to file a CFR) tells the SCPR that he thinks his political ally and personal friend Tom Harmon will be the top vote getter next Tuesday besting even himself.

Interesting, no?

Smuckler says he would be content to come in third.

His failure to match or exceed Babcock and Harmon in fundraising smacks of his being confident that his repeated runs for office (almost all of which have been successful) in Canton and across Stark County negate the need for him to get exercised with fundraising.

But he says he is not and is short of the money thing working as hard as ever connecting with Canton voters.

In addition to his own campaign, he is working hard to help elect Jason Scaglione in Canton's Ward 3.


So far (i.e. through the pre-primary reporting period), it's "all in the family" with the Harmons.

Only Tom and his wife and former Nimishillen Township clerk (now fiscal officer) Carlene have put money into Tom's campaign.

It will be interesting to see if that continues into the general election cycle inasmuch as with incumbent "independent" Councilman-at-Large Richard Hart with be a fourth candidate for council-at-large and either he, Harmon, Smuckler or Babcock will be left without a chair in this game of "'political' musical chairs."

Harmon was a ho-hum Stark County commissioner as far as the SCPR is concerned and though likely to finish in the top three among the Democratic candidates on Tuesday, if not, as Bill Smuckler predicts the top vote getter; it could be an entirely different picture in November.

Canton Council is blessed to have a non-Democrat in its midst and hopefully Hart can keep a non-aligned factor going in November.

If he does, then either Harmon, Smuckler or Babcock will be out.

Friends or not, Smuckler will step it up in November and look out for himself.

Undoubtedly, he will do what he can to help Harmon, but the Hart and Babcock presence won't allow much of that.




At the ward level in Canton, Councilman Greg Hawk is running the way any incumbent should run:  "scared."

Hawk is the most impressive councilperson in terms of fund raising at the ward level.

Note that the SCPR has emphasized and highlighted the fact that Hawk who is chairman of the powerful Canton City Council Finance Committee received a $300 donation from the developer (Steve Coons) of the former Onesto Hotel (Onesto Lofts).

Interesting, no?

It is the SCPR's recollection that Hawk was one of the most "bananas" for the Onesto Loffs project (if not the most) in terms of being "all out" for Canton Council's support/subsidy of the Coon development.

The SCPR buy into the read which Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris has articulated in his opposition to the Onesto Loffs Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in Morris' saying that Coon was going to complete the project without the TIF.

So why was Hawk and a majority of his fellows on council so eager to give away 75% of property tax receipts to various Stark County political subdivision units (including support for children services which has a renewal levy on Tuesday ballot) over the next ten years?

Undoubtedly, Hawk's support had nothing whatsoever to do with Coon contribution to his campaign.  Entrepreneur Coon likely says that he simply supports good government and that Councilman Hawk's devotion to downtown development is good government for Canton.


What is amusing about Candidate Tim Porter is that though there is no need to file a CFR in one raises under $1,000, he did so anyway.

Had he raised any money, one might be impressed with his filing just to put he contributors on record.

But look at his report.

From the looks of things, Greg Hawk has no worry whatsoever about getting re-elected.



Councilman West found no need to raise significant ($1,000 or more) and appears to be a sure thing to be the Democratic nominee in Ward 2.


Candidate Norris was a non-filer.

Another cakewalk reelection appears to be the offing for Councilman West (also a non-filer) on his the basis of his long tenure on council and his greater notoriety.



Brahler is said to be "lying low" after an incident earlier this year in which he went "over-the-top" at a Canton McKinley girls' basketball game in castigating a referee who displeased him in quality of his officiating.

Apparently, the hope is that Ward 3 voters will remember the name Brahler but not in the context of his setting an unacceptable example in his role as an elected member of the Canton City Schools Board of Education and board president at the time of the incident.

Especially disappointing to the SCPR is the support he has from Councilmen Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and Kevin Fisher (Ward 5) both of whom The Report has a very high regard for.


Councilman Bill Smuckler's effort is not likely to please fellow Councilman Babcock who is a cousin to Jason Scaglione competitor Ryan Brahler.

A curiosity about Scaglione's contributors is one by staunch Republican Jeff Jakmides.

The Report will have to check with Jeff about that one.

Also to be noted is the contribution by Smuckler ally Tom Harmon.

It seems that Smuckler and Harmon are intent in getting Scaglione elected.

Scaglione, the SCPR is told, is at the forefront of keeping heat of the Healy administration on pothole/street repairs.

The Report doesn't see how Ward 3 voters can take a chance on Brahler embarrassing them with a McKinley girls basketball-esque faux pas.

But they might.

Outgoing Councilman Jim "I just love being a councilman" Griffin is doing all he can to get Brahler elected.

The question is:  Why?



One of Canton council's very best councilmen.  So the SCPR thinks.

His campaign finance report like Councilman Hawk's shows a Steve Coon contribution.

But his is only $200.

Double interesting, no?

The Report's comments are the same as written in the Hawk/Porter Ward 1 coverage above except of course Mariol is not Finance Committee chairman.


A form Repository reporter, he is a member of Canton's Park Commission.

As a member he has and will continue to make decisions recommending to Canton City Council on the structure of and financing of the merger of the Canton Joint Recreation District with the Canton Parks Commission.

Zutali has run unsuccessfully for Ward 7 councilman a number of times.

The SCPR thinks that 2015 will also be unsuccessful.




Andrea Scassa is what the SCPR believes to be a "bridge-over" councilperson on the Massillon City Council.


What in the world does that mean?

Anyone familiar with Massillon politics know that there are four different political factions to deal with in city politics and government, to wit:
  • the Ferrero Democrats,
  • the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr Massillon Political Machine, 
  • the Frank Cicchinelli Democrats, and, of course, 
  • the more or less united Massillon Republican Party
Scassa who was elected to replace Kathy Catazaro-Perry when she stepped down to run for mayor has, in the opinion of the SCPR, been an asset to Massillon government and politics in her ability to have solid relationships with all of Massillon's political factions.

Over time as she gains experience as a councilperson, Andrea Scassa could be a key to getting all the warring political factors to set aside their animosities for the betterment of Massillon.

Her fundraising level this reporting cycle  rivals top Stark County council candidates and exceeds most and reflects her appeal to all the Democratic factions listed above.


Her opponent on Tuesday Yvonne Daniels did not file a CFR for this reporting cycle.

Sassa should win handily over Daniels on Tuesday.


This Massillon ward and Ward 6 are the most competitive races in Massillon in this election cycle.

The winner in the Ward 4 Democratic Primary is likely to go on and win against the Republican candidate in November.


Shaddrick Stinson is the incumbent but he has allied himself with the Catazaro-Perry administration and thereby antagonized neighborhoods surrounding The Legends of Massillon golf course.

Depending on the turnout (who votes from what areas of Ward 4), this seat could go either way.

The Report thinks that The Legends area neighborhood voters will win the battle of turnout and therefore Stinson may well turn out to be a one-term-councilman.

When he ran in 2013, he finessed former mayor Frank Cicchinelli into thinking that he was not a captive of Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and her supporters that make up the Maier Massillon Political Machine.

But that was a one time thing that is not going to be repeated this time around.

The SCPR thinks that this ward is the most likely to experience a political upset come next Tuesday.


Jill Creamer, as far as the SCPR knows, is a first time candidate.  However, she is the spouse of a former Massillon Washington High School basketball coach.

More importantly, to the degree Democrats live in the The Legends of Massillon Legends neighborhood, one would think they will be solidly behind Creamer.


A very interesting race indeed.


Michelle Del Rio Keller is currently a Massillon councilwoman-at-large having been first elected in 2013.

In 2013, current Republican Councilman Ed Lewis, IV matched up against Del Rio-Keller's Ward 6 opponent Linda Litman.

He won a narrow victory in 2013.

But the SCPR thinks:  had he run against Litman a second time, he was going to lose.

Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller has proved her mettle to the SCPR in working through a very difficult process of trying to make The Legends of Massillon (in the operational sense) a profit making entity.

However, she has had to fight Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and the existing Park and Recreation Board (PRB), "tooth and nail."

In time, The Report thinks all the key players including the mayor, the  PRB and her fellows on council will come to realize that her plan to hire full time professional management is the only way to enhance the operational solvency of the golf course.

Del Rio Keller has deep, deep roots in Ward 6 and the SCPR thinks she is the odds-on-choice to win on Tuesday.


The Report sees Litman as being part of the Maier Massillon Political Machine and, in that her husband is a union man, she has strong union support in terms of campaign contributions.

While the Maier Massillon Political Machine loyalists are not contributors on Litman's pre-primary report, the SCPR fully expects that the post-primary report will see them surface in spaces.

Like Del Rio Keller, she works for First Merit Bank, which is an interesting aside.


So how big a factor will money be in the outcome of the intra-Democratic Party primary election contests?

Important indeed!

However, as one local politico maintains and the SCPR agrees with; "voter turnout" in terms of who gets their supporters to the poll will be just as large if not a larger factor than the money factor.

Expectations are low.

Perhaps as low as 10% of the Stark County electorate.

As the SCPR has written on quite a few occasions, such low numbers is an indication of the ineffectiveness of both political parties and the candidates in inspiring citizens to vote.

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