Thursday, July 16, 2015



There is no telling from one day to the next what the breaking news! in Stark County politics is going to be.

In preparing today's blog, I was serendipped with this bit of "heads up" from a prominent Alliance area politician.

Earlier this week, yours truly had a discussion with a leading Stark County politician who told me that Democrats are already lining up to succeed political independent Thomas M. Bernabei should he be ultimately certified by the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board) to run in the November general election.

Those mentioned include:
  • Kevin Fisher, Canton City councilman, Ward 5,
  • Stephen Slesnick, 49th Ohio House state representative,
  • Gayle Jackson, a former Stark County commissioner and Perry Township trustee, and
  • William Smuckler, Canton city councilman-at-large
Undoubtedly, there will be others.

Folks who would never do what relatively unknown at the time former Nimishillen Township trustee Todd Bosley (a Democrat) did in 2006 in running against and defeating incumbent Republican commissioner Richard Regula, "come out of the political woodwork" when there is a political appointment to be made.

Regula has since made a comeback and defeated Smuckler for the open Bosley seat who ran for and was defeated in a race for the Ohio House, District 50 (to Republican Todd Snitchler).

While the SCPR would like to see Bernabei qualify to run as an "independent" (otherwise incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II is unopposed in the November general election), it is far from certain that he will eventuate as a candidate inasmuch as his certification will probably be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court.

So there is no doubt that Republican Mungo and the Democrats mentioned above are "jumping the gun" as the starter gun factor (Bernabei running and winning) has not gone off.

  • SCPR Note:  Mungo may be pointing to the 2016 election for the Bernabei seat and not primarily positioning himself to get an appointment should Bernabei be elected mayor of Canton.
Let's say that Bernabei does qualify as an "independent" and gets elected.

What is the pathway to succeeding him in the more "immediate" sense of succession?

Well, it depends.

Were he to resign early to focus on the mayoralty campaign, the SCPR thinks his successor would be chosen by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee.

That, The Report is what Ohio Revised Code Section 305.02(A) & (B) stands for, to wit:
305.02 Vacancy in county offices filled by election or appointment.
(A) If a vacancy in the office of county commissioner ... 
(B) If a vacancy occurs from any cause in any of the offices named in division (A) of this section, the county central committee of the political party with which the last occupant of the office was affiliated shall appoint a person to hold the office and to perform the duties thereof until a successor is elected and has qualified, ... (larger font color change emphasis added)
Were Bernabei to hold his commissioner seat until elected as an independent, then - the SCPR believes, remaining commissioners and Republicans Janet Creighton and Richard Regula and Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero (a Democrat) would appoint Bernabei's successor as indicated by ORC 305.02(D), to wit:
(D) If the last occupant of the office or the officer-elect was elected as an independent candidate, the board of county commissioners shall make such appointment at the time when the vacancy occurs, except where the vacancy is in the office of county commissioner, in which case the prosecuting attorney and the remaining commissioners or a majority of them shall make the appointment. (larger font color change emphasis added)
Of course, should Bernabei lose to Healy (the SCPR thinking that there is no requirement that Bernabei resign his commissioner seat if he qualifies as an "independent" candidate for mayor), there is no vacancy to fill inasmuch as Bernabei was re-elected in 2012 unopposed and his term runs through 2016.

But if he does win as an "independent" having remained a commissioner until elected mayor, one has to think that Republican Mungo has made a smart move "in jumping the gun" and thereby capturing the attention of Republican commissioners Creighton and Regula to get the appointment as Bernabei's successor.

Another scenario - if Bernabei loses to Healy having not resigned as commissioner to run for the Canton mayoralty - is that Mungo would have a head start in opposing him in November, 2016 presuming Bernabei would run for re-election.

Mungo's number one appeal to the SCPR is that "he is a fresh face" on the Stark County political scene.

Mungo's home origin is Summit County according to material published in this LINK.

In the aforecited publication he is described thusly (restructured for clarity purposes):

He [Mungo] and his wife, Michelle, live in Stark County and have three kids. 

Dr. Mungo is:
  • an exerise enthusiast, 
  • [a] hunter and 
  • passionate about God, history and politics. 
In his free time, Dr. Mungo can be found charging across a field on the back of a horse as a Civil War Cavalry Re-enactor. He is one of the officers in the 6th Ohio Cavalry, the largest federal cavalry unit in the country at this time.

No doubt, something that Stark County political subdivision political races need are to have more "fresh 'political' faces" like Mungo step up to run for public office.

Of course, he may have qualities that negate that appeal.

A "fresh face" is not nearly enough to base a campaign on.

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