Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PART 8: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



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,
Today's blog is on Massillon Councilman Paul Manson.


By The Stark County Political Report's assessment, Paul Manson is the glue who holds the coalition of Democrats (who currently are in a majority on Massillon City Council) and Republicans who are committed to functioning as a "check and balance" on Mayor  Kathy Catazaro-Perry together.

Recently, The Report was in conversation with a Republican member of council who backed off on taking a position on a SCPR question out of regard for and sensitivity to the Democrats inasmuch as they are in the majority.

The SCPR thinks that the reluctance was due in large measure to the high degree of respect the Republicans have for the dean of the Democrats; namely, Paul Manson.

Paul has been on council 12 years (as of the end of 2015) having first been elected in 2003.


He did run in 2001 and came very close to unseating Republican Jim Filhour in that election.

This November he seeks his 7th straight election victory.

But things are just a tad changed.

In 2003 his election that Democrats held all of Massillon's at-large seats through successive elections until the win of Republican Milan Chovan in 2011.

The 2015 election outcome could result in a "difficult to keep harmony" scenario developing on Massillon's council.

The problem will not come in an at-large council race.

The Report figures Manson to win along with Republicans Chovan and Ed Lewis.

Mind you in 2003, it was Manson and two other Democrats.

So while it is ironic that two Republicans are likely to win at-large in a largely Democratic predominant voter registration city;  Chovan and Lewis have shown that they work comfortably with Manson and most of his fellow Democrats.

There appears to be virtually no chance that Republicans will regain control of council.

Moreover, it seems likely that a Maier Massillon Political Machine (MMPM) allied person could be elected this fall in Ward 2.

And the MMPM folks could make Ward 1 and Ward 6 interesting.  On the other hand, the SCPR thinks that MMPM ally Shaddrick Stinson is vulnerable not only in November's general election but also in the Democratic primary.

If Stinson survives this time around, the SCPR will be surprised.  This time there will be no Frank Cicchinelli to the rescue like there was in 2013.

If the MMPM is successful in electing a couple of their own to council, look for the coalition (likely still to be a majority) to be challenged by two or three councilpersons who see council's role to more of a "let's be handmaidens of the mayor" than a separation powers "check and balance" function unit.

It will take a strong Democratic leader like Paul Manson to could the "check and balance" coalition together.

The SCPR thinks Manson is a strong, respected leader and will be able to hold the coalition together.

Manson's leadership skills and his demonstrated willingness to "reach across the aisle" and work with the Republicans (both during the 2012-2013 term of council in which they were in control and in the past one-year-and-one-half that the Dems have been in controls is the primary reason that the SCPR selects him as #8 leader on the Stark County Top 10 List.

One of Manson's shining moments occurred on July 14, 2014 when he gaveled down a out-of-control Mayor Kathy as she accused council of being racists and sexists in trying to exercise fiscal control on the hiring being done.


The has received over 1,700 viewings as of today.

To capture Catazaro-Perry's intemperate outburst go to the 9:49 mark of the video.



The SCPR sees Manson working with Republican Ed Lewis, the de facto leader of the Republicans on council, notwithstanding tighter numbers, to ensure that Massillon returns to economic and financial health on a solid and sustainable foundation.

The foregoing capsulizes why Paul Manson is deserving of being the SCPR's Stark County #8 ranking leader from among county political subdivisions.

Next up for tomorrow's blog,  #9 leader.

Hint:  Tomorrow's leader undoubted wears a carnation in this suit lapel.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Part 7: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



Last Monday, 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,
Today's blog is on Alliance City Councilwoman Julie Jakmides.


And this extract from an impressive biography on the Alliance city government website:

Councilwoman Julie A. Jakmides is currently serving her second term as an At-Large member of Alliance City Council. 

Councilwoman Jakmides is 23 years old and a lifelong resident of the City of Alliance. She is a graduate of Regina Coeli and St. Thomas Aquinas High School (2010) and attends St. Joseph Catholic Church. 

Julie was proud to have been a member of the 50th anniversary Carnation Festival Royal Court and considers that experience the event which inspired her to continue working in public service.

Councilwoman Jakmides graduated cum laude from the University of Mount Union in December 2013 and was the recipient of the Outstanding Criminal Justice Award at commencement. 

She is the former chairperson of the Streets and Alleys committee, and a former member of the Community Development and Utilities committees as well as the Water-Sewer Advisory Board.

In her second term she was appointed the chair of the Planning, Zoning and Housing committee and a member of the Finance and Safety & Judiciary committees. 

Councilwoman Jakmides consistently strives to attend meetings of all the different council committees and city boards -whether a voting member or not. 

When not handling business as a member of City Council, Julie also sits on the Alliance Family YMCA Board of Directors and is a full-time law student at the University of Akron School of Law [scheduled to graduate in 2017].

From the get-go, the SCPR had the sense that Alliance Republican Julie Jakmides had a bright future in politics from the time she took out and filed petitions to run for Alliance City Council back in 2011.


The Stark County Political Report ranks Jakmides right up there with

  • Canton's Edmond Mack, Kevin Fisher, John Mariol, Frank Morris III, and
  • Massillon's Ed Lewis, IV
as Stark County's most promising politicians/councilpersons in terms of qualities that they possess to lift Stark County out of the morass that the county is stuck in.

While youth in and of itself is not necessarily the answer to invigorating government processes and substance, the six named above have qualities that set them apart from their peers (those sitting on Stark County's  four major city councils:  Alliance, Canton, Massillon and North Canton) and from the older set of councilpersons who hold councilmantic office.

And Councilwoman Jakmides shows promise as being among the elite of the elite.

Compared to troubles that have plagued Canton, Massillon and North Canton city councils, Alliance has been relatively free of controversy and consequently the SCPR has spent relative little time with Alliance politics.

However, Alliance has not been devoid of some controversy.

Most of it has been at the hand of former councilman and now council president Steve Okey.

And a lot of that had to do with what the SCPR thinks was Okey trying to make Alliance Council the battleground of a political fight between the Maier Massillon Political Machine (MMPM) and Alliance Republican councilman Larry Dordea in the 2014 face-off for Stark County sheriff.


Jakmides was one of if not THE leading figure in the Alliance Council slapping President Steve Okey down for trying to embarrass Dordea and the rest of council for the manner in which the conducted some "sensitive" votes.

While The Report agrees with Okey that the process was not consistent with democratic-republican principles of accountability, his action from the perspective of the SCPR was tainted with MMPM surrogate politics.

Council censored Okey for the manner in which he handled the matter.  

The SCPR's position is that politically-laced battles have no place in city councils and accordingly chastised both sides with the caveat that Okey deserves the major share of the blame since he initiated the confrontation.

The Report hears that Okey (a Democratic Party appointee as the replacement for John Benincasa who passed away about one year ago) has been much more civil as council president.

However, Alliance's Republicans (presumably including Jakmides) have not forgotten Okey's transgression and are out to defeat his bid for an elected term beginning in January, 2016.



Look for Councilwoman Jakmides to once again "lead the pack" in vote plurality for the "three-to-be-elected" 2015 Alliance at-large council race.

As pointed out above as a political newbie she outpaced all candidates including the popular and incumbent Democratic councilwoman Sue Ryan who is not seeking reelection this November.  She repeated her lead-vote getter role in 2013.

It should be inspiring to Alliance residents and Stark Countians that in her early 20s Jakmides has involved herself in working to improve the political and governmental health of her local governments.

On the gender side of things, she appears to be the only young female on a track to be a positive force in Stark County local government.

Christina Hagan (state representative, the 50th of Marlboro Township) could be another.  But the SCPR thinks her bubble will burst when if she ever runs countywide because of her extreme right wing religious connection.

Tough they appear to be close on a personal and political level, The Report trusts she will not make the error if adopting Hagan's rightest political point-of-view.

One area the SCPR want to see more of from Jakmides is more in terms of sponsoring substantive legislation.

She did a good thing in adopting the approach of Canton Councilman Kevin Fisher (and of a Youngstown area legislator, from whom Fisher got the idea) of requiring property owners to register with the city of Alliance and thereby be more accountable for the maintenance and upkeep of their properties.

A major, major problem with urban properties is deterioration, degradation and ultimately decay to the point of needing to be demolished.

The upside for Julie Jakmides is enormous.

The foremost Stark County female leader currently is Stark County commissioners Janet Creighton (also a Republican).  And Janet has been a credit to her gender and to her political party in being an effective public official as recorder, auditor, mayor of Canton and now a commissioner.

The SCPR sees Jakmides with much potential.

Of course, potential is just that.

The only question is will Councilwoman Julie Jakmides take up the challenge and "be all that she can be" in terms of providing sorely needed forward looking, progressive and highly constructive leadership as we head to the middle years of the 21st century.

The SCPR thinks she will and for that reason and on the basis of her achievements to date The Stark County Political Report names her as #7 on the Stark County "Top 10" leadership list.

Next up, one of Massillon foremost mainstay and stabilizing leaders.

Hint:   This leaders is not part of the Maier Massillon Political Machine.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

PART 6: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



On Monday, 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."


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,
Today's blog is on Canton City Councilman-at-Large Richard Hart.

Political Affiliation:  Independent
Education:
1972 Graduate of Lehman High School
1975 Graduate of The Ohio State University B.S. Education
1989 Graduate of University Of Akron, Masters Degree

Committees:


Personnel Committee (Chairman)
Member, Environmental & Public Utilities Committee
Member, Public Safety & Thoroughfares Committee
Member, Downtown Development Committee

Memberships (Past & Present):
Ex News Boys
Boy Scouts of America
Grace United Church of Christ
Canton Preservation Society - Advisory Board Member
Riverwatch Tower Property Owners Association Board Member
Calvary Mission Board Member
Tri-County Waste District Policy Committee
Former Member of Board of Zoning Appeals
Former Member of City Planning

Former 10th Ward Council Member
Former 7th Ward Council Member

Brought City Wide Curbside Recycling to Canton
Fought to protect Canton's Water Sources from being polluted

Goals:


Fully staffed Police/Fire Departments
Lower Sanitation rates for Recyclers
Improving Canton's Neighborhood redevelopment
Working to improve Canton's employment opportunities
Park Improvements for residents

Term Expiration: December 31, 2015
(Source:  City of Canton Website)

A surprise election to Canton City Council in 2013, Richard Hart had a tough introduction as an "independent" Canton councilman in the context of all the other councilpersons being Democrats.

There are two key words in the foregoing paragraph.

First keyword, his election a surprise?  

Indeed!

In that Canton has a 9 to 1 Democratic over Republican voter registration edge and Hart a former Republican seemed to be tied to his Republican past despite his best efforts to separate, it was "assumed" by yours truly and nearly every other Stark County political observer that Hart could not - given the registration numbers - even managed to come in third in the election of three councilpersons-at-large in the 2013 election notwithstanding his having been a former Republican councilman from the 7th (different from today's 7th Ward now represented by Democrat John Mariol) and the 10th (which no longer exists).

Most of us thought that newcomer Democrat Roland K. Burns, III would be elected just by virtue of being one of three Democrats on the November, 2013 ballot.

But as can happen, Burns the third became his own work enemy in being accused by Canton building officials as being a poor steward of rental properties he owns and maintains within the city.

Even so many of us politicos thought he would survive.

And he may have but for the very familiar to Canton households name of Richard Hart.

Second key word:  A "tough" beginning as a new councilman?

Indeed!



Richard Hart got caught up (in a negative light) - by his inaction - in a fight between Ward 2 Councilman Thomas West and Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris, III as to who was going to be vice president (majority leader) of council.

The vote was 6 to 5 in favor of Morris which fact West seized upon in challenging the legitimacy of Morris' "apparent" election.

Had Hart done anything but "not vote" then council could have gotten on with the business of organizing and initiating the new term (2014 - 2015) with nothing but an interesting but "clearly" falling short effort by West to upset Morris' applecart.

A vote for West (as reports indicate he was inclined to do) if he decided the enter the Democratic political fratricide would have made it a 6 to 6 tie which would have thrown the matter to council president Allen Schulman who was set to break the tie in favor of Morris or he could have "seen the handwriting on the wall" and voted for Morris making Morris the clear winner of a "true" (i.e. all seven council member voting) and thereby "cut [West] off at the pass."

But he didn't and insofar as the SCPR can determine such has been the only blemish on Hart's 2014 - 2015 term on Canton City Council.

While Hart has not been spectacular in his role as council's only non-Democrat, he has been a steady, studied and serious minded councilman who knows how to ask incisive questions.

His advantage over some of his Democratic colleagues who too can ask the tough minded  questions is that it is hard to make the argument that in doing so he has a partisan or in the case of the Democrats (intra-partisan) agenda going.

The SCPR sees a guy like Hart as more or less an ideal type of councilperson in that his take on issues that come before council seem to be about as objective as one can be.

And he can and does open his mouth and thereby sets himself apart as a leader in council.

That he has been given a chairmanship by the Democratic council caucus is testimony in support of the SCPR's take that Richard Hart is a leader albeit in a mode that is somewhat different than one normally sees.

Hart is by no means a novice to Canton politics and government.

As noted in this biography above he has served as a "Republican" councilman in Canton and he has run as the Republican candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Moreover, he ran as an "independent" for mayor in 2011.

Richard Hart's primary contribution to Stark County political subdivision politics and government is serving as a model to aspiring political independents to go and do likewise.

A SCPR "hats off" to Councilman Richard Hart for the non-traditional leadership he has shown as a political independent.

Next up in this series, the SCPR turns to the Carnation City.

Hint:  The Report's #7 leader has a leadership pedigree.

Friday, March 27, 2015

PART 5: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



On Monday, 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,
Today's blog is on Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Along with yesterday's SCPR subject Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Stark County commissioners Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton; Alex Zumbar has been a key figure in restoring the Stark County public's confidence in county government following what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has termed as being Zeiglergate (April 1, 2009 through October 19, 2011).

There is however one key difference between Zumbar and the others.

In Zumbar's case there was an alternative selection to be had to succeed Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer.

Zeigler, as it turned out, was "unconstitutionally" removed as treasurer by the-then commissioners Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson in August, 2010.  The Ohio Supreme Court restored Zeigler to office in June, 2011.

The September, 2010 alternative was Democrat Ken Koher who did serve for a short period of time which was from September 20, 2010 through November 24, 2010.

Koher who had been selected by Stark County's "organized" Democrats to replace Zeigler had to face Republican nominee Zumbar (September 9, 2010 at a Stark Co.  GOP meeting which resulted in the SCPR "gone Huffington Post Internet viral" Phil Davison "over-the-top Republican" video) on November 2, 2010.



Zumbar won and was sworn in on November 24th.

But, of course, as indicated above,  Zumbar was out in June, 2011 only to return on October 31, 2011.


From the Stark County treasurer's website:
Alexander Zumbar was first elected Stark County Treasurer in November of 2010. 
Prior to assuming his current position he spent 18 years in public service. 
Beginning in 1996 Treasurer Zumbar was elected to the Alliance City Council and held that position until 2003. 
Also, in 2003 he held the dual position of Administrative Assistant to the Honorable Charles E. Brown Jr. in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas- General Division. 
In November, 2003 he was elected to the position of Alliance City Auditor and held that position until May of 2008 when he was appointed as Finance Director of North Canton and held that position until his election as Treasurer. 
Civically, Alex is on the District Eagle Scout Review Board, Regina Coeli Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus #558, and Christopher Columbus Society. 
Professionally Treasurer Zumbar is a member of Auditor of State Dave Yost-Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board, Government Finance Officers Association, County Treasurers Association of Ohio and Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada. 
Alex holds the following certificates and special awards and honors: Emerging Trends in Fraud Investigation and Prevention certificate, Public Records and Open Meetings Law Training certification and the Ohio Financial Accountability certification. He has received the CAFR Award from the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office and the Government Finance Officer Association from 2004 through 2010. The State Auditor Award and is a BSA Eagle Scout. 
Treasurer Zumbar received his B.A. degree in Accounting from Mount Union College.

This is what the SCPR had to say about Zumbar in a November 23, 2011 annual Thanksgiving Day blog: (an extract)
[Zumbar] is a Republican through and through. 
He, picking up where Democrat Ken Koher had left off, on his winning of office in November, 2010 went to work instituting many structural, policy, practice and procedural changes in the Stark County treasury to ensure that a Vince Frustaci-esque theft of taxpayer moneys could never happen again. 
Moreover, Zumbar went to work in proposing and helping establish a Stark County-based land bank program to identify condemned, abandoned and to be torn down properties to be put to more productive use. 
Picking up on local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley's focus on the fact that some $40 million of back property taxes are owed to Stark County and its political subdivisions, Zumbar has put together lists of properties for the Stark County prosecutor's office to pursue in order to get much needed revenue into the hands of the county and the subdivisions. 
This despite being bounced in and out of office like a yo-yo. 
Indeed Stark Countians should be thankful that Alex Zumbar had the fortitude to stand tall and do what's good for Stark County.
Zumbar continues his restructuring of the Stark County treasurer's facilities in order to achieve maximum protection of Stark County taxpayer money to the degree it is still kept at the treasurer's office which is located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Zumbar has done sterling work as the initiator of (March 21, 2012) and guiding factor in the formation of and development of the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC, aka Stark County Lank Bank).

A number of Stark County political subdivisions have benefited from the formation of the SCLRC.

Canton with some 4,000 of 5,000 blighted and abandoned residential units remaining (the 1,000 removed so far coming from SCLRC administration of an Ohio attorney general office grant and Canton's $1 million local match) has been a major beneficiary of the existence of the SCLRC.

However, as stated by the SCPR in this series about Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Auditor Alan Harold, as well as The Report thinks of Zumbar, he is not perfect.

It was alarming to the SCPR when it appeared that Zumbar:

  • appeared (in July, 2014) to be trying to increase the pay of his chief deputy (Jaime Allbrittain, a former Stark Co. treasurer herself) at the expense of the SCLRC without bidding the "to be created SCLRC position" out to the general public,


Needless to say, Zumbar was furious with yours truly about the blogs on the incidents described above as he has been from time-to-time on other SCPR blogs.

What public officials like Zumbar can't quite seem to figure out is that yours truly does not seek to be liked by Stark County officialdom.  In fact, The Report gets just a tad nervous if a given relationship with a public official gets comfortable.  The question always becomes:  Am I doing my job as a journalist?

The Report gets along well with most of Stark County officialdom.  But things do get testy from time-to-time and that's the way it should be.  Zumbar has been among the most unhappy with the blogs that the SCPR publishes.

And, of course, word filters back to The Report that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and elected official members of his Maier Massillon Political Machine go absolutely "bonkers" at some of the SCPR's incisive blogs on how they perform as Stark County officials.

The Report see these folks as cowardly types who only answer questions posed by the "fawning" press.

The SCPR does not mind elected officials having a strong political party loyalty side to them except when The Report thinks that party connections seem to unduly play in the discharge of the official functions.

The Report suspects that Zumbar and his sidekick Allbritain and Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park were into some sort of political quid pro quo (something for something) in Park's daughter ending up on the Stark County treasury payroll and Allbritain's showing up on Judge Park's payroll.

Moreover, Zumbar hired into his office the child of a Republican Alliance councilman (Roger Rhome) apparently without making the job available to the general public.
There is probably nothing more odious to the SCPR than these types of "do not meet the smell test" personnel transactions.

On the Democratic Party side, Sheriff George T. Maier is the personification of the "does not meet the smell test" on the question of his non-union hirings.

Notwithstanding Zumbar's warts, the SCPR thinks that he is a superb Stark County official.

And he can be assured that The Report's thinking well of him will be no barrier whatsoever in terms of writing blogs chastising him for what yours truly thinks is this or that inappropriate public action.

A vigilant press helps make the likes of Zumbar better public officials.  Unfortunately, Stark County's only countywide newspaper all to often give certain public officials a pass on intense scrutiny.

On balance the SCPR thinks well enough of Zumbar to make him make #5 on the Stark County "Top 10" List of Stark County political subdivision elected officials.

Tomorrow the SCPR will feature #6 on the list.

Hint:  He is in the context where partisan elections are held for public office, Stark County's only "independent."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Part 4: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS




On Monday, 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,
Today's blog is on Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.
Alan was raised in Louisville and had public service as a calling from an early age.  
After a career in banking and in small business, he was elected to office in November of 2010.  
SCPR Note:  Among Harold's private sector endeavors, he was employed by:
  • Huntington Bank, and 
  • Coon Restoration and Sealants, Inc. as its CFO
Alan is an active member of many community organizations, including United Way, Buckeye Council – Boy Scouts of America, and St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
He has participated in the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Stark County (23rd Class) and Government Academy (2nd Class). 
Alan has a Master of Business Administration degree from The Ohio State University (2003); a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Union College (1998); and is a graduate of Louisville High School (1994). 
He and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Harold, live with their two children, Caroline and Andrew, in Avondale.
SOURCE:  Stark Auditor's Website


Harold has long been a favorite of The Stark County Political Report who may in time rise to the very top of The Report's quarterly published Top 10 List of the best Stark County Political Subdivision elected officials.

To do so, he will have to pass a number of tests that will come his way in ensuing months/years in the context of his being Stark County's auditor.

Back in 2011, Alan was among one of five Stark County-based elected officials that The Report singled out in this blog's annual Thanksgiving Day blog as person for Stark Countinans to be thankful for with respect to the year of being recognized.

The span of April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 was an excruciatingly difficult time for Stark County as will be apparent to the reader of this blog in the material that follows.

Alan Harold was among several newly arrived elected Stark County officials (November, 2010) that "saved the day for this 212 year old county.

This is what yours truly had to say about Harold back in 2011:
The SCPR views Stark County Auditor Alan Harold as a Republican enthusiast.

But that is okay.

Beyond that, The Report is convinced that Harold is determined to do the right thing for Stark Countians who use the services of the auditor's office.
 
Harold was one of the more indignant Stark Countians (both as a candidate for auditor and as an elected official) at the what he has described as the failure of former Stark County Treasurer to implement adequate structural, policy, practice and procedural reforms while Zeigler was office (1999 - 2011) to have prevented Vince Frustaci from stealing Stark County taxpayer money. 
Harold showed spunk and courage in standing fast in the face of Zeigler being restored to office on June 23rd of this year in withholding Zeigler's pay and his use of county provided equipment (i.e. telephones and computer) in the face of Zeigler not being able to obtain bonding that is statutorily required by Ohio before one can serve as a county treasurer in Ohio. 
It could be that Harold's steadfastness was instrumental in Zeigler being willing to negotiate with county officials regarding his eventual retirement/resignation from office on October 19, 2011.
Another impressive thing about Harold was his persistence in running for office.
 
In 2008 he endeavored to run against Zeigler.  Harold has told The Report that he was all set to run when word came down from his then employer that if he persisted in running it would cost him his job. 
Having a family to support, Harold had no choice but withdraw.   
However, he came back as a candidate for the Stark County Educational Service Board in 2009.  While he lost that race, once the Frustaci revelation took place he found a seized an opportunity to run for county auditor. 
Rightly or wrongly, it appears that the Stark County voting public felt that the then Auditor Kim Perez (a Democrat), which many Stark Countians perceived to have close political ties with Zeigler, did not act decisively enough when he had questions about the accuracy of data coming from the Stark treasury to the auditor's office and turned to Harold by electing him to replace Perez. 
The stamina of Alan Harold is a quality to be admired and the SCPR believes the Stark County public should be pleased that Alan Harold is now serving as their auditor.
The SCPR thinks that he continues to distinguish himself as auditor, but like the well thought of (by the SCPR) Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei, he is not perfect.

It may appear in spots that The Report is counter-arguing support for the notion that Harold deserves to be #4 on The Top 10 List.

Never mind, such is simply the style of yours truly.

As stated above, Harold being much younger does have the potential to topple Bernabei from the top of The Top 10 List.

However, there is also the potential to completely fall off the list.

Quite a number of Stark County elected officials treat their offices as if they were running a private corporation and are apt not afford the general public the opportunity to apply for taxpayer paid for positions that come open.

Such is not okay with the SCPR.

If the person these officials prefer to hire uncompetitively is so great, he/she will certainly be able to withstand the challenge of a competitor, no?

And maybe just maybe the hiring official, when faced with a competitor who has skills and attributes that clearly trump the preferred "insider," in the context of the public interest - if they care at all about the public interest rather than their personal comfort personal interest - may have to step away from the familiar and personally comfortable and hire the person who has more to offer to taxpaying public that he/she serves.

The SCPR suspects that Harold's hiring of A.R. "Chip Conde," clearly a competent and seemingly qualified person, was done to satisfy his personal comfort level and, perhaps, part of the Stark GOP reward system (i.e. "thank you 'Chip' for running for mayor of Canton in 2011") and not necessarily as case of hiring the most qualified person.


Conde is a guy the SCPR thinks well of and still believes was the far superior candidate in the 2011 Canton mayoralty race.

But as far as The Report is concerned nobody including the obviously competent and able Conde gets a free pass (i.e. apparent but not "real" competition) to a taxpayer supported job.

As Stark County elected officials know, the SCPR keeps an keen eye on this seemingly private-esque transactions.

Harold says that he did post the position that Conde was hired into and denies that Republican politics had anything to do with Conde's hire.

While Harold is not a part of the Stark GOP structural officialdom, nobody should think that he is not a de facto power within the "organized" Stark County Republican Party official family.

As the SCPR retorts in the case of every suspicion that a given GOP/Dems official hiring has a political aspect to is this:  It may be true that politics had nothing to do with it, but who is going to believe it.

Unlike The Repository, the SCPR does not single out certain officeholders for critique (a la The Rev vis-a-vis Kim Perez when he became auditor in the early 2000s).

Harold is not resting on his laurels as cited above.

He is making tremendous strides in updating his office's internal practices and procedures and the county's information technology infrastructure.

And he and his staff have done some admirable "in the interest of Stark County taxpayer" work.

Here is a blog link to blogs wherein yours truly details some of the auditor's office work in this regard under Harold's leadership.


However, there has been a curious development in development on this matter.

For tax year 2012, Auditor Harold's office appraised the Huntington Bank and associated  property at $8.9 million based in the actual purchase price by Amerimar and the appraisal was affirmed by the Auditor's office Board of Revision.

The buyer objected and filed an appeal with Stark County Court of Common Pleas.  Judge John Haas heard the case and decided that the $8.9 million appraisal was the correct number in the light of Ohio law that seems to stand for the proposition that the sale price is the best evidence of value for real property tax appraisal purposes.

That case has been appealed to the 5th District Court of Appeals and is pending.

Then something "very" strange (in the opinion of the SCPR) happened.

For tax year 2013, Harold's office dropped the appraisal to some $4.5 million.

A huge difference, no?

Of course Amerimar had to be happy.  However, the Canton City Schools was not.

But Harold's tax year 2013 $4.5 million appraisal action (attributing the re-evaluation which is not directly done by Harold to him for purposes of this blog) was short-lived.

The Stark County Board of Revision ( BOR, LINK to Ohio statutory basis, which interesting enough Harold was a member of) overrode the $4.5 million and once again set the appraisal at $8.9 million.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that in the tax year 2013 BOR decision, as mentioned above, Harold joined Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar and Stark County commissioner Richard Regula in reversing the $4.5 million appraisal.

Weird, no?


Amerimar Canton Office, LLC (Amerimar) once again appealed to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas (Judge Kristin Farmer) and the case is stayed pending the 5th District Court Appeals decision on the 2012 appraisal.

The focus of the SCPR on this series of events (specifically, Harold precipitous drop in appraisal value from $8.9 [2012] million to $4.5 million [2013]) is: Why?  And then why vote to override?

The Report did a quick reading of the transcript of the 2013 appraisal BOR hearing and does not see a Harold explanation as to why the $4.5 was made in the first place.

An explanation may be in there some where.

However, the transcript of the BOR proceedings is 61 pages long and the SCPR did not spot an explanation.

A month or so ago, the SCPR was at a Canton City Council work session and was interested to note that Deputy Mayor Fonda Williams was seemingly aghast at the 2012 Huntington Bank real property tax appraisal being at the sale/purchase price of $8.9 million.

He said that the 2012 appraisal caused rents at Huntington to skyrocket (the SCPR's term, not necessarily Williams, but it may have been).

The reason that the Huntington Bank matter came up with Canton has to do with the issue of what the tax appraisal will be for the Onesto Lofts project of former Harold employer (i.e. as CFO) Coons Restoration and Sealants, Inc.

Coon's company bought the Onesto for a little over $100,000 in about 2007/2008.

Well, with the restoration being nearly complete, and an appraisal (Coon's appraiser) indicated the property is now worth some $10.8 million, the the SCPR's suspicion is now that the tax man cometh all of a sudden there may well be a challenge to the $10.8 million figure.

If not now, perhaps a few years down the road.  

For Canton's council has granted Coon's company a 75% Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) credit, which of course is "real money," to use in finishing up the Onesto.

But the TIF "only(?)" last for ten years and once Coon's company gets the 75% of $10.8 million may it will not be so keen on paying taxes on that amount if not more after the TIF expires?

Sort of like Amerimar are we going to see Coon's company do a nuance of the Amerimar approach, to wit:  Buy the property low, get a high appraisal for TIF purposes, then during the 10 year TIF period or at the end there ask for a auditor's office tax valuation much lower?

How sweet!  No?

The SCPR has bought into the criticism of Councilman Frank Morris (Ward 9 and Majority Leader) that Canton council's action is a give-away of huge numbers of Stark County political subdivision dollars (the 75% factor) for a project that was highly likely to be completed without the TIF.


The Report's concern is that given his prior employment relationship with Coon's company, Harold should recuse his office of any work whatsoever on the evaluation of the property for real property taxes purposes.

Twenty-five percent (25%) remains a revenue factor for Canton government, the Canton City Schools and other Stark County political subdivision entities such as Children Services and Mental Health.

As readers will note by the tenor of this and prior blogs, at this time Harold is esteemed in his official capacity by the SCPR.

However, should Harold not have a "within reason" acceptable explanation for the precipitous drop in the 2012 to 2013 Huntington Bank appraisal and/or should he "put his finger into the 'appraisal' pie" of the Onesto project, his #4 ranking is likely to be lost come the next quarterly SCPR Top 10 List (due July 1st).

Hopefully he will clear this apparent contradiction in position up and if he does the SCPR will published it as a supplement at the beginning of this blog.

So we shall see how this saga unfolds.

As The Report sees it, these are critical times within which to make a deeper determination of Harold's leadership qualities.

He has picked "the low hanging fruit" and has performed admirably in doing so.  However, with any elected official, it is always a case of "what have you done for me lately."

After going through the above caveats, the SCPR finds much about Harold outside the foregoing concerns to like about his auditor's  leadership.

At the county level, Harold is set to be the best and the brightest that Stark County has to offer.  Time will only tell whether or not he fulfills that billing.

One area that his office clearly deserves huge accolades on is his technology group's work to improve/restructure the county's computer network.

While in December, 2012 he hired an Information Technology Manager (Rhodebeck) at $88,005 who has not been on board long enough to evaluate; Chief Deputy Auditor Anita Henderson  ($87,149) (Note: income data from Stark County Auditor, February, 2015)  has been around the county since 2005 and has earned universal praise for her work with maintaining and upgrading county information systems technology.

Ironically, she started out with former Stark County auditor Kim Perez way back in 1987 when he was Canton's auditor.  Perez brought Henderson with him from the city when he defeated appointed Republican auditor Brant Luther in 2004.

Harold defeated Perez in November, 2012 likely as an outgrowth of his being to politically close to former Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler.  Moreover, some think that Perez should have been more aggressive in raising a red flag when some of the numbers coming from the treasury were not squaring up.

The SCPR's take is that large numbers of Stark County voters perceived Zeigler not to have effectively managed the Stark County treasury in putting in place safeguards to have prevented his chief deputy Vince Frustaci from stealing some $2.46 million in Stark County taxpayer money over a number of years and culminating in the Spring of 2009.

Some departments of county government are in the Stone Age of computer technology particularly the courts and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Antiquated technology does impact the quality of services these departments of government can provide to Stark Countians.  Moreover, those departments of Stark County government which do not have "state of the art" technology have to be terribly inefficient and thereby diverting precious few Stark County general fund refunds from more productive use in service of Stark County's citizens.

Nobody that the SCPR knows of though disputes that Perez did a good thing in bring Henderson to the Stark County auditor's office.

The Stark County courts are just now getting on-board with an electronic filing system. Years and years after other Ohio counties have implemented the huge taxpayer money saving efficiencies that such a system will bring.

The Report understands that overall the court's technology remains as a hodgepodge of unsustainable technology pieces that will take Henderson and the new guy quite a long period of time and effort to get countywide technology to "state of the art" status.

It's a politically and "separation of powers-esque" sensitive thing for Harold to undertake.

Not only vis-a-vis the courts, but with the likes of the Stark County Sheriff's office and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Harold needs to stand behind his technology gurus and thereby keep nudging the technological Neanderthals (e.g. Stark BOE Director Jeff Matthews  [Stark County GOP chairman] and the BOE's members) who occupy taxpayer paid positions to put their agencies of government in a more capable and prepared technological status with which to serve the taxpaying Stark County public.

A simple thing that the Stark BOE can and should be doing is providing the general public with spreadsheet format election results data.

But when you have board members (Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and Sherer) who are out-and-out politicos in the sense they owe their jobs to their respective local political parties, it appears that they don't care one iota about making easily digestible and accessible election results information available to the general public.

Notwithstanding what the SCPR thinks are potential concerns about the integrity of the real property appraisal processes and, perhaps, politics being a factor in some of his hires, Alan Harold - for this quarter - deserves recognition as the SCPR's #4 Stark County in the Top 10 leaders because of:
  • his current and so far successful effort to tease technological advancement, restructuring out of various recalcitrant Stark County departments of government, and
  • his sea change in terms of the quality of "in the service of the public interest" changes he has made in the internal operation of the Stark County auditor's office pretty much across-the-board.
Like him (as the SCPR does) or loathe him, the fact of the matter is that Alan Harold is going to be a fixture in Stark County government and politics for a very, very, very long time.

Accordingly, he needs to be "at the head of the class" in terms of qualities he brings to Stark County leadership!

Tomorrow The Report will be presenting #5 on the Stark County Top 10 List of leaders.

Hint:  He benefited from political help from others.  But seems to lack the ability to step out of his comfort zone notwithstanding that he has a track record of being an outstanding administrator.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PART 3: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



On Monday, 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:
Today's blog is on Canton Councilman Edmond Mack.


Years In Office:  January 1, 2012 to present

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Education:

Juris Doctor, University of Akron School of Law

Bachelor of Arts, Kent State University

Current Employer:

Attorney - Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.

Committees:

Judiciary Committee (Chairman)
Member, Public Property Capital Improvement Committee
Member, Rules Committee
Member, Downtown Development Committee

Special Interests:

Reducing storm water drainage problems in Ward 8.

Decreasing the amount of blighted and abandoned houses in Ward 8.

Increasing the number of police patrolling Ward 8.

Professional Recognitions:

Recognized as 2014 Top 20 Under 40 Young Professional by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, ystark!, and the Canton Repository.
    
Recognized as one of Ohio's best attorneys under the age of 40 for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 by Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" rating service.

Community Service:

Provides pro-bono legal services on behalf of non-profit organizations in Ohio Appellate Courts as amicus curiae.

Volunteers legal services through the Wills for Heroes Foundation.

Serves as a Member of the Kent State University Stark Chapter Alumni Board.

Serves as a Trustee on the Stark County District Library Board.

Term Expiration: December 31, 2015

SOURCE: CANTON CITY COUNCIL WEBSITE

Elected in November, 2011 over incumbent Councilman Mark Butterworth (a Republican), Mack has had a stellar rise in government and politics in terms of honing his leadership skills over his nearly four years as Ward 8 councilman.


Butterworth as Ward 8 councilman (2010 - 201) used to talk about the advantages of charter government but was so utterly intimidated by the 11 ward and at-large Democrat councilpersons' dissonance that his talk proved to be just that:  "talk."  As councilman he proved to be an out-and-out "mealy-mouth."

That Mack won by a mere 43 votes out of 3,443 cast, should make the case to voters that voting can make a critical difference on how their government functions in their interests.

Added significance to the Mack 2011 victory is that Ward 8 is about the only chance that Republicans can win a ward seat in council.

Edmond Mack has shown that on the charter government issue he has added "action" to the Butterworth rhetoric and, accordingly, has achieved productivity in terms of getting the measure on the November ballot.

In July, 2014 Mack sponsored an ordinance for council to place the creation of a charter commission on the November 2014 ballot.

But he was defeated.


Mack was undeterred.

Since the defeat, he has been working tirelessly to get the matter before Canton's voters.

He tells The Report that he will be filing his petitions with the Stark County Board of Elections in June.

Cantonians may or may not reject Mack's work, but he has worked hard and intelligently in shepherding the charter government issue to the ballot.

If there is  a rejection, Mack will pick up and go on as he did when Ward 8 residents rejected his initiative to find a use for $10,000 allocated to the ward from the November 2013 passed Canton Parks & Recreation levy proceeds.

If it passes, the SCPR can think of nobody better equipped to promote that Canton voters accept  the charter plan formulated by the 15 member commission selected this November for presentation for an up or down vote within a year (likely the November 2016 election) by Cantonians than Edmond Mack.

In that he is a councilman, Ohio law prohibits him from seeking a place on the commission.

However, it is likely that when Edmond Mack as a citizen speaks, commission members will be listening attentively.  For BUT FOR his effort, there would be no opportunity for Cantonians to vote in our democratic-republican system to weigh-in on the matter.

It was a sad day for citizen participation in our government when on July 14, 2014 Councilpersons West, Griffin, Smith, Fisher, Dougherty, Morris and Babcock voted to deny Cantonians the opportunity to have their say.

Mack himself repeatedly demonstrates that he listens when his fellow councilpersons speak and super-listens when his constituents speak.

The SCPR did a thoroughgoing blog on a meeting in the ward hosted by Mack on the proposed site (St. Mark's Episcopal Church) where the $10,000 was to be spent.


It was clear to one and all that the residents who showed up at the meeting were overwhelmingly opposed and, consequently, Mack withdrew the proposal.

All to many elected officials "bull ahead" despite clear opposition because their egos cannot take "no" for answer.

But not Edmond Mack.

The impressive thing to the SCPR was that Mack provided each Ward 8 resident who showed up at the meeting to have his/her full say and he endeavored to provide a full and complete answer (whether liked or not) to each citizen question.

On this question, Councilman Mack proved that he can "handle the heat in the kitchen."

It is difficult to rank Mack as being superior to his fellow young councilpersons on council (the others being Fisher [Ward 5], Mario [Ward 7] and "sort of" young [at least in term of his time on council] Frank Morris [Ward 9]).

They all deserve consideration to be among the SCPR's Top 10.

However, the SCPR puts Councilman Mack in the #3 slot in this initial quarterly evaluation because of:
  • his persistent activity (currently) in getting the charter government question on the upcoming November ballot, and
  • his demonstrated sensitivity to his colleagues and constituents
Nobody knows what the future holds.

But the SCPR sees Mack as having the potential to be a future mayor of Canton.

He may not be interested in that:
  • he has a child that he needs to nurture, and
  • he is a high quality lawyer with one of Canton's prime law firms and being mayor would be at great professional career path cost and surely long term would entail considerable financial sacrifice
The SCPR trusts he is considering such.  For he has qualities (i.e. intelligence, character and a vision) that are sorely needed in Canton government.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilman Edmond is named #3 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Tomorrow's blog will be on #4 on the SCPR Stark County Top 10 leadership list.

Hint:  A county official who once demonstrated against John Boccieri in 2008 in Boccieri's successful campaign (opponent:  Republican Kirk Schuring) to replace Stark Countian Ralph Regula upon Regula's retirement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PART 2: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



Yesterday, the The Stark County Political Report started a new feature.

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 presentation on:
Today, Councilwoman Nancy Halter (of Massillon) is presented as the SCPR's #2 ranked leader within Stark County Political Subdivision government.


Born March 28, 1940.
Married Ronald Halter June 17, 1961.
Two sons, Martin and Ted. 
Church affliation: St. Joseph Catholic
Church Education:  St. Marys Elementary School.        
Central Catholic High School, Class of 1958.
Occupations: 
Manager - The Massillon Club - Nov. 1999 - July, 2005 
Events Director: Massillon Area Chamber of commerce -April-1992---Nov. 1999 
Stark Cooling & Heating, Inc. - April-1985 -- April 1992

Demmer Hardware, Inc - Aug. 1980 -- April, 1985 
Halter's Party Line - Halter's Bridal Studio - Sept. - 1969 - 1980 
ORGANIZATIONS & ACTIVITIES 
While at the Chamber - I scheduled & organized all Chamber Breakfasts with's, Let's Do Lunches & business After Hours.  Worked very close with Massillon Alive, Pride In Appearance. 4th of July, & Tourism committees, the Business Education/Advisory Council & the Massillon Main Street. I was the Events Director for the Ohio All Star Football Classic, directing all of the events associated with the 10 day Classic.  In that capacity I worked very closely with the Ohio High School Coaches Association.  
After  I left the Chamber, the Coaches asked me to stay on & in 2001, in Columbus - they presented me with an award that read "Nancy Halter - the first lady of the Ohio All Star Classic"  In sincere appreciation for your tireless efforts in working with Ohio's All-Star High School Football players. Presented June 30, 2001.   I AM MOST PROUD OF THIS AWARD. 
Served as co-chairman & chairman of Massillon Relay for Life. 
Served on Massillon City Council Council-at-Large for 5 years. 
Westark Republican woman President for 2 terms. 
Stark County Republican of the Year 1999.
Massillon Republican Volunteer of the year 1999.
Woman of the year Award from the YWCA Academy of Women for Business/Law/Government 1997.
(SCPR Note:  Above biographical material extracted from larger body of information provided by Councilwoman Halter).

Going back to her election in November, 2011 for a second stint as a Massillon councilperson (the first being in the late 1990s), The Report recognizes that she put together a group of Republican candidates for Massillon City Council that surprised Stark County's political pundits in that she thereby engineered a Republican takeover of council all to the betterment of Massillon's government.

Political competition is the lifeblood of check and balance government.

Canton City Council suffers because there is no political competition from the GOP in the Hall of Fame city.  The general public has to rely on Democrats fighting among themselves.  And some of that does happen, but not nearly enough.

Registration wise, Massillon is predominantly Democratic.

But you would not know that from the make up of council.

Especially so in 2011 as a consequence of Halter's work:

  • Ward 1 - Republican Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly,
  • Ward 2 - Republican Nancy Halter,
  • Ward 3 - Democrat Andrea Scassa,
  • Ward 4 - Democrat Tony Townsend,
  • Ward 5 - Republican Donnie Peters,
  • Ward 6 - Ed Lewis, IV,
  • Council-at-Large:  Republican Milan Chovan,
  • Council-at-Large:  Democrat Larry Slagle, and
  • Council-at-Large:  Paul Manson
In 2011, Massillon Maier Political Machine mayoralty candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry ran against long time incumbent mayor (28 years) Frank Cicchinelli and defeated him in the 2011 Democratic primary.

One thing that Maier and sidekick Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark County Dems) lost sight of in their zeal to elect Catazaro-Perry was the make up of Massillon City Council.

It appears that it never occurred to them that former council member Halter was catch them napping.  And, indeed, she did.

Halter went out and recruited the likes of Milan Chovan, Ed Lewis, IV, Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly and of course herself to run in 2011 and the results were stunning.

Massillon's Republicans with very little if any help from the "organized" Stark County Republican Party administered one of the most embarrassing political defeats ever suffered by Maier et al.

So "in the making of the 'political' pudding" you have an interesting set up.

A formidable political machine supported mayor who has to deal with a Republican controlled city council.

The SCPR was really excited about the conflict that was sure to develop given the partisan divide, no?

Well, think again.

The first overture from the Republican controlled council to the new mayor was let's not have political warfare, let's work together for the betterment of Massillon.

But Catazaro-Perry, a disciple of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and political power politician Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (also Massillon clerk of courts), was having none of it.

From the get-go, the mayor made it clear; "its my way or the highway."  Taking a page out of the political playbook of Maier himself.

Consequently, since January 1, 2012 through today, Mayor Kathy and Massillon City Council have agreed on little on key substantive issues and therefore Massillon is stagnating if not declining notwithstanding the cheerleading mode that the mayor is in.

The SCPR thinks that Catazaro-Perry humiliated and embarrassed this once proud city in insisting even before she took office that the State of Ohio declare that the city be designated as being in fiscal emergency.

Nancy Halter for one had to be totally put off by the new mayor's action.

For as Halter's biography shows, she has put many, many, many hours in over many years (as part of a Massillon community effort) to build Massillon up only to have it ripped asunder "in one fell swoop by an outsider (she came from Perry Township).

As it turns out, the State uses six criteria to determine whether or not a city is in fiscal crisis.  And Massillon barely fit into one of the six on State of Ohio Auditor Steve Yost acceding to the Catazaro-Perry wish.



Isn't that bizarre?

The placement of Massillon in fiscal emergency is one of the key battlegrounds in which the mayor and council have battled.

Because Massillon is in fiscal emergency, the mayor and council need to agree on a "restoration" plan or face 15% across-the-board cuts to all departments of Massillon government.

Catazaro-Perry (grudgingly) and council recently formulated a second restoration plan after the first (also agreed to after much acrimony between the mayor and council) failed in November, 2014 with the overwhelming defeat of an income tax increase among other measures.

While the obvious leader of Massillon's council Republicans is Councilman Ed Lewis, IV (Ward 6; running at-large in this year's election), the SCPR's read is that Councilwoman Nancy Halter - though largely behind the scenes - is the equal of if not the superior to Lewis in terms of influencing the stances of council on various key issues.

The SCPR sees Lewis as the public face of the Republican side of council whereas Paul Manson appears to be the Democratic councilmantic spokesperson.

It appears that there is very little if any political difference between the Republicans and Democrats on council (SCPR note:  non-Maier Democrats regained control of council in the 2013 elections) and, except for the likes of Shaddrick Stinson (Ward 4 Democrat), most votes garner across-the-aisle support on key substantive issues that council has vis-a-vis the mayor.

Though the SCPR sees Halter as a behind-the-scenes de facto council leader, she has taken on one substantive issue very publicly:  that being strengthening of and enforcement of Massillon's housing code.

One bane of many of an American city is that political and government leadership has allowed citizens to ignore keeping a obligation under city housing codes to keep their properties in repair.



Nancy's sterling housing code legislation, if properly implemented, will help lessen the neighborhood blight that Massillon incurs as compared to other cities, one, of course, being Canton which has about 4,000 residential units decayed to the point that demolishing them is the only recourse left.

Here is a YouTube LINK featuring a number of Massillon political and government officials including Councilwoman Halter.

In reaching out "across-the-aisle" to Catazaro-Perry on her initially becoming mayor, Councilwoman Halter (who was once a Democrat herself) demonstrated responsible and exemplary leadership.

Moreover, while the mayor pretty much sat on her duff during two prior levy attempts (the latter of which was part of the first restoration plan), Halter joined with her fellow council members in trying the persuade Massillonians to raise taxes (except for a parks and recreation levy) since the late 1970s.

There is no doubt about it, Halter is a committed Republican.

However, she does not allow her political preference to interfere with working with the mayor and her fellows on council to bring better times to the citizens of Massillon.

Regretfully, Councilwoman has sustained some health issues recently and therefore has decided not to seek another term on council.

However, the SCPR believes that there are councilpersons who will be continuing on beyond December 31st who will carry the Nancy Halter "responsible" and "mature" style of leadership going forward.

The mayor who is a few years younger than Councilwoman Halter would do herself a lot of good in following the Halter model of leadership.

Though she leaves council on December 31st, one has to believe that Nancy will continue working behind the scenes in her unofficial capacity to ensure that Massillon continues on its path to restoration of a semblance of Massillon of yore.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilwoman Nancy Halter is named #2 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Coming up tomorrow.  SCPR Top 10 list leader #3.

Hint:  From the plethora of young leadership on Canton City Council.