As pointed out in Tuesday's SCPR blog (LINK), Democrats have not held the law directorship of Alliance city government since Mike Ogline held the office in 1987 through December 31, 1991.
It is now approaching the 25 year mark of the Dems being out of office.
That is a very, very long time for a political drought.
It had not occurred to The Report that the time may be ripe for the Alliance Dems to regain the Alliance Law Department in this election cycle.
In fact, yours truly was focusing on the council presidency race (Republican Garnes v. Democrat Okey) (LINK) as the "hot button" race in Alliance this year.
On publication on the blog identify that race as one to watch in Alliance, The Report was told that such was not the case and that Whitaker v. Arnold is THE "hot button" race.
And The Report suspects Garnes v. Okey still think commands the the attention of Republican and Democratic politicos, notwithstanding being told that Okey is not making much of "for public appearances" effort.
But who is the SCPR to take exception to Alliance-based political activists as to which race is the one that has the political blood coursing through the wards and precincts of Alliance.
Before Zumbar, now retired judge and Republican Robert Lavery held the office going back to the Ogline days.
It seemed like this year's Democratic candidate, Mark Whitaker, a long time Alliance attorney (a native son of the Carnation City) was being offered up a political sacrificial lamb when yours truly noted his filing a petition with the Stark County Board of Elections back in February to run for the office as the Democratic standard bearer.
As often happens with the SCPR, after the filing an e-mail showed up in The Report's e-mail account signaling that Whitaker's filing should be taken seriously in that he would likely be receiving Republican Party support.
And indeed there is a Stark County BOE campaign fiance report with regard to the May primary election (also shared with the SCPR by Arnold) showing that Whitaker has received support from a couple Alliance Republicans (Michelle Zumbar [Andrew's wife] and former Republican Alliance Municipal Court judge Robert Lavery), to wit:
SCPR Note: The pre-general election (November 3, 2015) campaign finance reports (CFR) were to been filed with the Stark BOE yesterday. The Report has requested copies of Arnold's/Whitaker CFRs and will amend this blog to include copies thereof.However, The Report had talked to a knowledgeable Democrat about the viability of a Whitaker candidacy and was told that he was not a viable candidate and that Zumbar replacement Republican appointee Jen Arnold (worked as an assistant under Zumbar for about 12 years) is almost certain to be elected in her own right come November 3rd.
Accordingly, the SCPR is not at all sure that Whitaker is a serious threat to the Republicans losing the Alliance law directorship this time around.
What does give The Report pause to think that maybe there is something to the assertion that the Arnold/Whitaker face off is a real fight that might result in the Dems taking over, is the swift reaction that yours truly received from a leading Alliance Republican and Director Arnold herself on the day after the October 20th blog.
It appears that the fuel that seems to be feeding the notion that Arnold is in political trouble has to do with her having exercised poor judgment (in the opinion of the SCPR) in having from about January through December, 2014 what she terms as being a personal, tongue-in-cheek Facebook page.
She may consider it to have been personal and tongue-in-cheek but she should known that it would be taken by those who are not enamored with her as being an unprofessional picture of life in the Alliance law department which cannot not be justified as being "just joking around."
Readers of this blog should definitely go back to Tuesday blog and take a look at the offending graphics (again, the LINK) of Arnold's Facebook page (now having been taken down).
On the linked blog, one of Arnold's endorsers is Republican Larry Dordea who is Ward 3 councilman, a former councilman-at-large, and a former highly successful police chief of Alliance (now the police chief of Hartville and a two time losing candidate for Stark County sheriff in two pretty close races).
The Report has a high regard for Dordea and thinks that Stark County would be in much better law enforcement hands had he been elected over Democrat George T. Maier whom the SCPR thinks has politicized the management of the sheriff's department and plays favorites with the unionized deputies in a game of "divide and conquer" to keep union leaders on their heels.
Dordea tells The Report that notwithstanding the poor judgment of Arnold in doing the ribald Facebook page, he unqualifiedly reaffirms his endorsement of her.
Mark Whitaker was NOT the source of the Arnold Facebook graphics that appeared in the October 20th blog. However, he does have a copy of them and does admit that he bases his "Arnold is unprofessional" opinion partially - but not entirely - on those Facebook entries.
As a refresher, here are a copy of the offensive to some "personal" FB graphics posted by Arnold and/or members of the Alliance Law Department staff:
Arnold characterized the Facebook material as "old news."
Well, how old is as late as December, 2014?
And if she thinks her now non-existent Facebook graphics are old news, what would she say in terms of antiquity about this material she sent me about Mark Whitaker?
An interesting note on information provided by Arnold is that Whitaker in August/September 2013 applied for a position in the Andrew Zumbar (Arnold as his top assistant) Alliance Law Department.
The SCPR takes the Arnold telephone call (see a summary of points made below), the Dordea phone call and the negative material provide by Arnold on Whitaker to be a case of "fighting political fire with political fire."
In doing so, Arnold is not creating a new political model. Rather such is rather typical of hard fought political campaigns.
And, of course, The SCPR provides any and all subjects of The Report blogs a full and unfettered opportunity to respond to blogs that include them in the blog presentation.
The Report appreciated having an extended conversation with Whitaker as summary of which was published in the October 20th blog.
Arnold too spent time with yours truly on the telephone on Wednesday past and here is a summary of what she had to say:
- She opened up in saying that she felt that the SCPR needed to know about Whitaker having had a discipline problem with the Ohio Supreme Court which she learned of back in 2013 when Whitaker applied for a job with the Alliance Law Department when she apparently had the responsibility to determine whether or not Whitaker should be hired,
- Distinguished between her former "personal" Facebook page (FB) cited in the above linked blog (which interesting enough is no long available online) and her professional FB which is apparently doubling as a campaign FB page as linked to in Tuesdays blog,
- Stated she has tried not to be dirty in the campaign but if they (Whitaker and /or his supporters) are going to go back two years and make available to the voting public material from her "personal" Facebook page to suggest that she's unprofessional then "that's a horse of a different color" (the in quote marks words is the SCPR characterization of Arnold frame of mine; not her direct words),
- On the matter of whom the politically prominent Zumbar family is supporting she says that her prior reports shown contributions in check form from:
- Judge Andrew Zumbar and his wife Michelle,
- says that she is told that Michelle Zumbar is a distant relative of Whitaker's,
- Judge Lavery (who also contributed to Whitaker's campaign),
- Cited as an example of dual community support situations in which her political sign is in one part of a Alliance resident's yard and Whitaker's is in another part of the same resident's yard,
- Responded to Whitaker's claim that she has plea bargained 75% of domestic violence cases down which came under her purview as a Alliance Law Department prosecutor, and in doing so,
- negated the possibility that a second domestic violence charge would be treated as a felony rather than a misdemeanor criminal offense.
- Her specific response:
- "Demonstrates that Mark does not understand how domestic violence works,"
- that domestic violence does not get cured by arrests,
- that domestic violence gets cured by people understanding that they deserve more than an abusive relationship,
- that her approach in Alliance citywide presentations with another person (Kim of the Domestic Violence project) focuses on listening to/counseling the victims and those charged so as:
- to prevent occurrences of domestic violence rather than build her prosecutor portfolio,
- that she is not worried about convictions but she is interested in making somebody's life better, and
- said she doesn't know whether or not Whitaker's 75% number is correct or not,
- Finally said that she does think there is more to the Whitaker/Okey relationship than Whitaker is owning up to based on Okey's record of making campaign finance contributions to Whitaker,
On the domestic violence front, she did provide the SCPR a graph of the work the Alliance law department has done in this regard in 2013 and 2014, to wit:
Undoubtedly, Arnold regrets having included the law department office related material on Facebook.
Whatever her motivation, it does indicate to the SCPR that she is capable of very poor judgment.
Moreover and undoubtedly, Whitaker regrets his lapse in judgment back in the mid-1980s.
Not to make excuses for Whitaker, but going back to the mid-1980s is a very long time ago and there is no indication whatsoever that he has any professional indiscretions since.
However, the SCPR thinks that Alliance voters should evaluate both lapses as to there relevance in the assessment of these voters in coming to a determination on how they vote as between Arnold and Whitaker in early voting and of course on November 3, 2015, the concluding election day itself.
It could be that this Whitaker/Arnold face-off is THE "hot-button" race of the 2015 election in Alliance.
From what the SCPR knows now about how the Garnes/Okey has played out as compared to to the Arnold/Whitaker match up, it appears that the May/June 2015 SCPR source knew what he/she (whatever the gender of the source is) was talking about.
We really won't know the final answer until the late hours of November, 2015!