UPDATED TODAY (04/28/2016) 06:30 AM - NEW MATERIAL ADDED
It depends on your perspective.
LOOKING STRICTLY AT THE REGISTRATION NUMBERS
As between registered Republicans and Democrats, the Republicans have it by nearly a two to one margin.
Election results tend to undermine the on-the-face-of-it reading of those numbers and not being truly independent minded voters.
And, as far as the "non-partisan" vote is concerned, the SCPR looks at those numbers no as if these folks by and large are truly independent minded voters.
Depending on where they reside, their actual voting practice in terms of partisan alliance pretty much mirrors the registration propensity of their overall community.
For example, a "non-partisan" Cantonian is highly likely to vote Democratic.
MEASURING POLITICAL DOMINANCE BY RESULTS
In all of the Stark County-based Ohio political subdivisions there are 364 (more or less) elective offices.
Looking at the following spreadsheet, it appears that the Stark County Republican Party should be deemed to be in control.
PARTY I.D. OF THOSE HOLDING STARK COUNTY OFFICE
Republicans hold 197 offices fanning through boards of education, villages, cities and countywide (beyond in the case of the Court of Appeals) in Stark County.
The Democrats: 138
Non-partisans (in terms of not voting in partisan primaries over the past three years) hold 23 of Stark political subdivision offices.
So chalk one up for Stark GOP chairman (also director of the Stark County Board of Elections) Jeff Matthews.
OUTCOME OF LAST TWO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
From a presidential election standpoint, the Dems and Chairman Phil Giavasis win.
Democrat Barack Obama carried Stark in 2008 and 2012.
STARK: COUNTYWIDE ONLY
A virtual tie.
In fact, if you believe the Board of Elections it is a tie because the BOE shows Commissioner David Bridenstine to be a Republican.
Undoubtedly, the Republican tint is assigned Bridenstine because he voted in a Republican primary election within the past three years.
And yet his historical employment record has been in the office of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman John Ferrero, Jr.
John D. Ferrero, Jr does not strike yours truly as somebody willing to abide a markedly Republican staff person.
In an interview with the SCPR when he was appointed to replace former Democrat turned "independent" Thomas M. Bernabei (currently the mayor of Canton) as commissioner, Bridenstine indicated that he considered himself to be a Democrat.
If it hadn't been for what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley terms as having been "Zeiglergate" (April, 2009 through October, 2011), the SCPR believes that the Democrats would hold a clear majority of "countywide only-offices" with the county auditor and county treasury being held by Democrats Kim Perez and, of course, Gary Ziegler.
Moreover, Stark County might also have Democrats Steve Meeks (Jackson Township) and Peter Ferguson as commissioners.
The Report thinks there would be at least one Republican commissioner because there is no way—had he chosen to run for re-election—that former Democratic commissioner Todd Bosley (now a Nimishillen Township trustee) would have been election.
That Republican likely would have been Jackson Township trustee James N. (Jamie) Walters.
Even with a third candidate in the race, there SCPR thinks there is no way Bosley could have won re-election as commissioner.
He cooked his political goose in future Stark County wide elections for joining fellow Democratic commissioner Tom Harmon (now a Canton city councilman-at-large) and Republican commissioner Jane Vignos in "imposing!" a 1/2 cent sales tax on Stark Countians.
Craig T. Conley surfaces again in the Stark County political mix as being the person who spearheaded the repeal of the Bosley/Harmon/Vignos imposed sales tax in November, 2009.
BUT FOR Zeiglergate and the "imposed" sales tax, The Report computes that Democrats would likely today hold 14 of 20 countywide offices.
Court of Appeals judicial offices are not included because the 5th District Court of Appeals covers 15 counties and includes judges who are not Stark Countians.
So the "virtual tie" is a product of fortuitous circumstances (another way of saying "the Democrats self-destructed).
No. Jeff Matthews did not get up off is rump (look at Canton city government which is a 12 - 0 Democratic unitary government) and energetic devise a plan to reinvigorate a once healthy (under former chairman Charles Brown) Stark County Republican Party.
SO OLSON, WHICH IS IT: A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRATIC COUNTY?
The SCPR comes down on the side of Stark County being by a small margin a Democratic county EXCEPT if the Democrat who is running is believe out-in-the-county to be a Canton Democrat.
One of Stark County's most able Democrats (unlike his cousin Stephen Slesnick currently a state representative in the Democratic "safe" 49th Ohio House District and who is seeking a county commissioner seat) Bill Smuckler (currently a Canton councilman-at-large), despite years as a Canton elected official with all the ink in The Repository he benefited from could not defeat Richard Regula for county commissioner in 2014.
We all know that the name Regula is powerful in Stark County.
But Richard has managed to muck that advantage up twice.
Gary Zeigler of all people defeated him in 2000 in the very first election Zeigler ran for county treasurer.
And, believe it or not, Todd Bosley (not now nor then exactly a Stark County well known political name) defeated Regula in his bid for re-election as an incumbent county commissioner in 2006.
One other bit of the Canton exception evidence.
Alluded to above in this blog in the discussion about Jackson trustee James N. Walters possibly being a Stark County commissioner.
Had there not been a third party candidate (who The Report thinks shared Walters' Republican-esque, conservative, if not right wing politics) drawing votes from Walters, Walters would have been elected over Canton Democrat (in terms of history of holding elective office) Thomas M. Bernabei.
THE RAMIFICATIONS OF STARK BEING DEMOCRATIC-LEANING
Look for Hillary Clinton to win Stark County in her match up with any Republican (except perhaps John Kasich) in the presidential race.
If either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee, look for Rob Portman to lose Stark to former Democratic governor Ted Strickland (quite down those cheers Maier, Jr, [a case of The Report being funny]) and locally God Forbid! Stephen Slesnick might slip by Canton Township trustee Bill Smith for county commissioner.
Could Regula lose to Canton Democrat John Mariol (currently Democratic Ward 7 councilman)?
But Regula has shown he can lose to a relatively unknown candidate.
COULD REPUBLICAN GAIN AN UPPER HAND IN STARK CO BASED ELECTIONS - COUNTYWIDE?
But not with Jeff Matthews as chairman.
Is there a "political" reincarnation of Charles Brown out there somewhere?