One of the biggest compliments I receive in writing The Stark County Political Report occurs when local government/political figures hide from me and my blog.
Such is clearly as case of not be able to handle thoroughgoing media scrutiny.
I have learned that Stark County commissioner candidate Stephen D. Slesnick has let it be known that he is on mission to thwart SCPR coverage of his campaign's "in the public view" face.
On Monday, Donald Trump announced that he was revoking the credentials of the Washington Post to cover his campaign.
While the Slesnick campaign does not have the clout to be credentialing media, the effect of his effort is in the same spirit.
Mark down Slesnick as being among Stark County's leading "anti-democratic-republican values politicos"—in the sense that they refuse to abide anything other than fawning media coverage. They clam up or become inaccessible the moment they are asked tough questions or subjected to critical assessment. In addition to Slesnick, other examples are:
- the Maier brothers (Sheriff George T. and Massillon clerk Johnnie A. Jr., and the syncophantic to Johnnie: R. Shane Jackson, his chief deputy and their proxy Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry,
- Dave Kirven (business agent for the Plumbers and Pipefitters), who as president of the Dems' Jefferson/Jackson banned the SCPR from covering the organization,
- Be sure to read this blog (LINK) on that tells a funny political story involving Kirven
- Board of Elections chief Jeff Matthews (also chair of the Stark Republican Party) who banned the SCPR from videotaping Republican Party events after the Phil Davison film when Internet viral,
The SCPR sees the foregoing as highly insecure people who try to bully others into doing their will in the political arena.
Try as they may, public figures of the ilk identified above cannot avoid The Report's incisive coverage of their public sector engagement.
As day-in, day-out readers of the SCPR know, The Report—for subjects covered—is the fairest media outlet in all of Stark County even to the likes listed above.
If Stark's politicos care about the fundamental values of our democratic-republican system of government, they will stand front and center and subject themselves to public scrutiny by stating their public policy positions, answering the media's questions and otherwise be open to public examination of whether or not they are fit to serve or in the case of incumbents fit to continue to serve.
And most do just that.
Slesnick as of December 31, 2016 will be out of a public job inasmuch as he will be term-limited out of the Ohio House of Representatives having served eight consecutive years.
As the political realities set in, he must have asked himself: what to do in order to perpetuate himself in public office.
For all too many, once they have partaken of the public sector, they become addicted and cannot fathom having to forage the private sector for a livelihood.
It is interesting that Slesnick does not simply slip back into the private sector. For he makes a big deal about his business acumen and being a vice president in the Slesnick family business complex.
Like Republican John Hagan, term limited out of the Ohio House on December 31, 2007 and who ran for Stark commissioner against Democrat Pete Ferguson in November, 2008, Slesnick is in this November's general election endeavoring to extend his stay in the public sector in running for county commissioner.
Hagan had to settle for going back to whence he came (being a Marlboro Township trustee) but has managed to bequeath his former 50th Ohio House seat (after a brief stint in the hands of Republican Todd Snitchler) to his daughter Christina.
Having survived a Democratic primary election, Slesnick has been invited by Next Chapter Bookstore (located on 4th Street in the Canton Arts District) to debate Republican nominee for Stark County commissioner Bill Smith on June 25th in one of two contests for Stark County commissioner that will become final on election day, November, 2016.
Next Chapter deserves kudos galore for presenting local candidates in a debate format as a medium for Stark County voters to become informed about countywide candidates.
In April, Next Chapter had Commissioner Richard Regula (a Republican) and Canton Ward 7 Councilman John Mariol (a Democrat) in for a debate (LINK).
In May, Prosecutor John Ferrero (a Democrat) and his opponent Republican Jeff Jakmides.
Not knowing about the Regula/Mariol debate, The Report picked up with coverage of the Next Chapter endeavor with the Ferrero/Jakmides debate. (LINK)
The Slesnick/Smith face off over the right to replace place-holding commissioner David Bridenstine.
Bridenstine was appointed as provided in Ohio law for replacing commissioner political independents by statutorily designated public officials.
In this case, the appointing persons were Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero (a Democrat), Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton (a Republican) and Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula (a Republican, who, by the way, is running as an incumbent commissioner in the other commissioner race in which his opponent is Canton City Council Ward 7 councilman John Mariol.
On December 31, 2015 political independent Thomas Bernabei resigned his commissionership to take office as the newly elected mayor of Canton.
Bernabei's shift has been a huge loss to the overall quality of the Board of Stark County Commissioners operation.
Slesnick and Smith seized the day when Bernabei segued over to being mayor in filing to fill the vacancy created.
While the board is still more qualitative than when it was staffed with Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks and before Meeks: Tom Harmon; Bridenstine's replacement is important on the matter of whether or not going forward the board will drift into mediocrity if not substandard as it was before Creighton and Bernabei were elected in November, 2010.
Stephen Slesnick as an addition would drag the board down into Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks (Harmon) territory.
Bill Smith certainly is no Tom Bernabei but he, Creighton and Regula (a likely winner over Democratic challenger John Mario) would be the equal of the present board if not a tad or two better.
Conventional wisdom was that former commissioner Pete Ferguson would win the March 15, 2016 Democratic primary.
It could be that political neophyte candidate Baylock outpolled Ferguson (a former elected official), Fisher (a sitting Canton Ward 5 councilman) in coming in second to Slesnick means that collectively they were an uninspiring group of candidates.
But nonetheless Slesnick came out on top in the four person race.
It is noteworthy that he was the choice of only 35% of voting Democrats.
Spectacularly low for a Democrat of the stature of being a state of Ohio elected official for eight consecutive years, no?
The SCPR sees this Canton Democrat being on a track for near certain defeat in November. Only a collapse of the Republican Party headed by a Donald Trump can save him.
Smith is a sitting Canton Township trustee of some 14 years.
With Slesnick trying to get the SCPR excluded from a public event (i.e. Next Chapter's June 25th event), it appears that The Report will have no choice but to do a follow up Mungo/Smith-esque interview for the general election without Slesnick.
Were Slesnick too have a change of heart and agree to a SCPR in depth, substantive interview alongside Bill Smith, one question he can be sure to be asked would be for him to give an accounting of the millions of dollars he claimed he has brought to Stark County. (See the insert below from the SCPR blog on the March 10, 2015 Canton League of Women Voters Forum for March 15 primary election candidates running in contested races)
Slesnick may think that he visting retribution on The Report for the publication of unflattering blogs throughout his tenure as state representative. But the real effect is an "in your face" to the Stark County voting public.
For in covering the Next Chapter event, the SCPR asks no questions of the candidates and merely records candidate answers to questions posed by questioners selected by the Next Chapter folks.
But, of course, SCPR interviews are "no holds barred" questions the Slesnick answers to which would likely show how utterly unprepared he is to be a Stark County commissioner.
It was a shock to county political observers when Slesnick threw his hat in the ring when the man who Bernabei defeated in November, 2015 (two term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II (then state Representative) back in 2007 when he defeated then incumbent mayor Janet Creighton to become mayor of Canton.
Virtually nobody gave Slesnick a chance because he was a political novice running against some Canton Democratic political heavyweights.
That his family surname is a prominent name in Canton business community and was apparently enough to bring into the public limelight in winning the 2008 Democratic primary election to replace Healy.
Again, note that he only received 29% of the vote.
A pretty low threshold, no?
For more information on the Slesnick family name factor, see the SCPR February 8, 2016 SCPR blog on the then impending 2016 Democratic primary election.
As state representative in a district
- now the 49th
- which is now somewhat changed from the 52nd to which he was originally elected in November, 2008
- (having been appointed by the Ohio House Democratic Caucus in March, 2008 right after his primary election victory),
Over the past eight years the SCPR has hammered away at Slesnick as not having a clue of how to be an effective member of the Democratic minority in the Republican supermajority controlled legislative body. Moreover, he has never responded to any SCPR e-mailed questions put to him in his eight years as a representative.
See Slesnick's Ohio House record on Ballotpedia to get the gist of what I am talking about in terms of his ineffectiveness.
Accordingly, it somewhat understandable why Slesnick is trying to avoid SCPR coverage of his quest to stay in government.
But as the Maiers, Jackson, Catazaro-Perry, Kerwin and Matthews can tell Slesnick, his foolhardy attempt to manage SCPR coverage of the Slesnick/Smith race is just that: foolhardy!
For the SCPR effectively and incisively provides Stark Countians with first rate insight into the qualities of various candidates for office with or without their participation.
In some instances, the SCPR does want to talk with candidate (e.g. William J. Healy, II) for all one gets ins spin, spin and more spin.
In further defense of Slesnick, his ridiculous attempt to try to control the SCPR is understandable in light of what the SCPR thinks of his not having articulation skills to make even a basic presentation on behalf of his own candidacy. His communication skills, The Report believes, are minimal.
But to play the role of —with Next Chapter of —"if , you do not ban the SCPR, I will take my ball and go home" shows how utterly politically immature Slesnick is in the context of thinking he can seek public office on his own terms.
Moreover, and more disturbingly, it shows that he apparently thinks he in his capacity of being a public official is unaccountable for his political past.
The SCPR in covering the Ferrero/Jakmides Next Chapter debate asked no questions of either candidate and merely videotaped the event. Of course, post-debate, the SCPR did assess which of the candidate triumphed.
What Slesnick undoubtedly fears is a forthcoming SCPR opinion piece as to whom won the Next Chapter sponsored debate given the SCPR panning he got in his Canton League of Women Voters performance of March 10, 2015 just days before the March 15th primary.
Here is what The Report had to say about Slesnick:
Jeff Jakmides tells me that several thousand folks have viewed the SCPR's video breakdown of the Next Chapter debate in the context of The Report presenting the entire debate in digestible (timewise, on average 7 minute clips per Q&A) segments.
Apparently, Slesnick has very little self-confidence when he gets out of his family cocoon given his lack of significance as a state representative and seeming unqualifiedness (as compared to opponent Smith being a long term township trustee) to be a county commissioner.
And, if, as in the case of Jakmides, several thousand Stark Countians via a SCPR produced video and analytical commentary see Slesnick in action, he has reason to be concerned. While Jakmides the rendition was highly positive for he acquitted himself well, it is unlikely that Slesnick can do so.
But maybe he can surprise all of us as he did in winning the 2007 Democratic primary election by finding something in his own public record to crow about that The Report does not presently see.
And maybe he can get up to speed on Stark County governance issues, programs and policies and thereby develop the ability to respond meaningful to questions posed.
What is the saying?
"Hope springs eternal."
For most, perhaps, except for Stephen D. Slesnick?
In October, 2015 Massillon Republican mayoral candidate Lee Brunckhart shocked everybody in far and away besting incumbent Democratic mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and independent and former mayor Frank Cicchinelli in a debate.
The SCPR would be even more stunned to see Slesnick turn in a "so-so" let alone spellbinding performance on June 25th at Next Chapter.
But in this day and age of politics, we all now know with Donald Trump emerging as the Republican candidate for president of the United States of America: anything is possible!