STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER RACE
MARIOL & REGULA
Prior SCPR blogs dealing with candidates for countywide office (general election; contested) include the following:
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on March 28, 2016,
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on March 30, 2016,
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on April 19, 2016,
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on May 6, 2016,
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on May 16, 2016 [NextChapter Debate],
- Treasurer Alex Zumbar (before Cain candidacy), May 31, 2016,
- Slesnick/Smith (county commissioner) on June 15, 2016,
- Slesnick/Smith (county commissioner on June 27, 2016 [NextChapter Debate],
- Jakmides (prosecutor) campaign kickoff on July 1, 2016,
- Jakmides (prosecutor) on the issue of trust on July 5, 2016,
- Giavasis (clerk of courts) on "throwing commissioners under bus," July 7, 2016,
- Ferrero/Jakmides (prosecutor) on August 19, 2016,
- Slesnick/Smith (county commissioner) on September 21, 2016 re: Candidates Forum,
- Shriver/Giavasis (county clerk of courts) on September 28, 2106 re: Candidates Forum,
- Murthy/Briggs (county coroner) on September 29, 2016 re: Candidates Forum,
- Campbell/Arnold (county recorder) on September 29, 2016 re: Candidates Forum,
- Cain/Zumbar (county treasurer) on September 29, 2016 re: Candidates Forum,
- Nist/Reese (Family Court judge) on September 29, 2016 re: Candidates Forum,
The focus today is on county commissioner candidates John Mariol (a Democrat, presently a Canton Ward 7 councilman) and incumbent Republican commissioner Richard Regula.
Yesterday, I received a question from a Stark Countian: Is Richard Regula going to be successful in retaining his job as commissioner?
The question sort of took the SCPR back but on reflection it was an entirely proper question.
For it could be "deja vu all over again" for Regula as he lost as an incumbent to then-upstart Democrat Nimishillen Township trustee Todd Bosley in a stunning upset.
In fairness to Regula, 2006 was definitely a Democratic year.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland (running for the U.S. Senate this year) wiped out right wing Republican and former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell.
Just to pause for a moment.
Think about it.
Had Regula been able to capitalize on his name and won in 2000 there likely would not have been a Vince Frustaci in a position to walk off with upwards of $3 million of taxpayer money from the Stark County treasury.
However, Republicans have to get nervous about "Richard" Regula running in terms of winning because of his loses to Bosley and before that Zeigler.
In 2000, of course, Republican George Bush was elected president winning Stark County by nearly 3,000 votes.
With a name like Regula (Richard is the son of now former Congressman Ralph Regula who was 16th congressional district congressman when the district included "all" of Stark County).
Ralph in his congressional re-election effort (in Stark County) got 34,353 votes more than son Richard.
To repeat the question: Is Richard Regula going to be successful in retaining his job as commissioner?
Answer: It could be "three strikes and your out!" for Richard.
John Mariol is one of the SCPR's favorite Canton city councilpersons. And, as explained later on in this blog, he seems much more suited to executive function in government than as a legislator or quasi legislator such as being a member of a multimember board.
He, former Councilman Kevin Fisher (Ward 5), Councilman Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and Councilman Frank Morris were dubbed the "the four young turks" in a SCPR blog. Initially, they kept former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II on "the straight and narrow," but in the end became among Healy's chief supporters on council. Healy is a wily politico who seems to demonstrate manipulative if not "conning" qualities in the order of Donald J. Trump. Apparently, "the four young turks" succumbed.
The SCPR sees Mariol's main problem in defeating Regula as being a city of Canton Democrat running countywide.
Even Thomas Bernabei would have lost in 2010 in his run for Stark County commissioner to Republican Jackson Township trustee James N. Walters had a third candidate not been in the race.
In 2012, Canton councilman Bill Smuckler (cousin of Stephen Slesnick who is running against Republican Bill Smith for an open commissioners seat) ran against Regula and in the judgment of the SCPR would have made an excellent county commissioner.
But that old political bugaboo (i.e. a Canton Democrat running countywide) and Regula won.
But another problem may be that many including the SCPR consider Mariol to clearly be "left-of-center" in his political philosophy. While not all that relevant at county level government, base political view surfaces in the decisions of county commissioners. Within the last year or so, Republican commissioners Creighton and Regula outvoted then-Democrat commissioner Thomas Bernabei (now mayor of Canton having turned to "independent" political status) on a resolution concerning Obamacare.
In and overall sense, Stark County is a political centrist county.
If an absolute political miracle materializes and Slesnick bests Smith and Mariol upsets incumbent Regula, John Mariol over time, if not from the get-go, as the dominant commissioners.
He will more or less parallel Thomas Bernabei in his clear dominance as commissioner.
Interestingly enough, Bernabei became dominant as the lone Democrat on the Board of Stark County Commissioners.
The Report sees Mariol's political/government leadership potential as an executive not as a legislator or leadership by committee (i.e. at least two of three commissioners) type.
If he loses in November as the SCPR expects, he should position himself in Canton to hone his skills along the line of Mayor Bernabei and one day replace Bernabei as mayor.
Slesnick, who the SCPR thinks has a difficult time finding his way out of bed each and every morning. if elected, will be a vegetative commissioner who looks to another commissioner for direction.
His cousin, Bill Smuckler, is very sharp and would have made an excellent commissioner if he had defeated Regula in 2012.
But being a Canton Democrat is a tough obstacle to overcome in Stark countywide politics. Bosley was not nor was Zeigler (Plain Township) which may explain their besting Regula.
In evaluating the responses of Regula and Mariol to the questions posed this week's Candidates Forum, the SCPR assesses that Mariol is a much more aggressive candidate who will cause waves as a commissioner, if elected, especially, if, as The Report expects, Canton Township trustee Bill Smith defeats state Representative Stephen Slesnick.
But as posed above, the SCPR would not be shocked to see Regula "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" come November 8th.
Now to review the Rep/LWV September 27th Candidates Forum Q&A of Mariol and Regula:
Let's pause to thank The Repository and the Canton League of Women Voters for sponsoring Tuesday's Candidates Forum.
Here are introductory remarks by Rich Desrosiers who is executive editor of The Rep:
By the way, the SCPR agrees with Desrosiers, both Mariol and Regula in terms of demeanor and personal presentation are models of civility and decorum for all public officials.
Here is the video of the candidates' opening remarks:
THE QUESTIONS & SCPR COMMENTARY ON ANSWERS
QUESTION: OVERCOMING CHALLENGE IN SOLVING CONSTITUENT PROBLEM/ISSUE AS ELECTED OFFICIAL
Video of Q&A
No edge here for either candidate.
Both gave examples, in their capacities of currently elected officials, of taking hold of government problems and helping in the fomulation of solutions.
QUESTION: SOLVING STARK COUNTY'S DITCHING/FLOODING PROBLEM
Video of Q&A
Chalk this one up "advantage: Mariol."
Regula's answer is not wrong per se but Mariol makes a telling point.
Stark Countians' grandchildren/great grandchildren will be hearing about the county's ditching/flooding problems if Regula's insistence on not raising addition "local" revenue is the approach the Stark County commissioners continue with.
The Report agress with Mariol, the interest factor "now" (which may not continue because that the Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates for a second time soon) is ripe to provide local revenue with which to match with federal/state grants so that Stark County gains the upper hand on the disrepair of Stark's ditches which of course is the reason for chronic flooding across Stark County.
QUESTION: OTHER THAN INFRASTRUCTURE AS A PART OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WHAT OTHER ROLES DO COMMISSIONERS HAVE IN SPURRING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
Video of Q&A
No essential difference in the answer of each candidate.
Boiled down, each answer is: create an environment in which young Stark Countians want to stay in the county on graduating from high school/college, people from outside Stark County want to take up residence in the county and business are attracted to Stark on the basis business enhancing resources located in Stark County.
QUESTION: PROTECTING STARK COUNTY'S LEADER NATURAL RESOURCE (WATER)
Video of Q&A
Mariol, in the assessment of the SCPR, has the edge on this consideration inasmuch as he presented more specifics responsive to this audience concern as a basis for the question.
He talked about Canton's (remember, he is a Canton councilman) grasp of understanding that it's water supply was a valuable resource ($2 billion) and that it is now time for the county to work with townships and other political subdivisions to protect the resource from the deleterious effect of road salt run off finding its way into Stark County's water aquifers.
Moreover, he brought using this resource as an economic development both protecting it (re: road salt effect) and in marketing it and thereby attracting water related businesses (water bottling companies) to locate in Stark.
Commissioner Regula did talk about protecting Stark County water (i.e. effects of oil/gas fracking) but did not go the extra step that Mariol did in discussing marketing this abundant Stark County resource.
QUESTION: CONSOLIDATION COUNTYWIDE OF STARK COUNTY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION SERVICES
Video of Q&A
Edge to Regula.
He talked about accomplished consolidations efficiencies during his current term as a commissioner.
Earlier on in the forum, Regula spoke of the greater accessibility and efficiency of getting building permits.
Mariol implies that he has engaged Canton in discussions about blending in with the rest of Stark County on providing centralized services but the SCPR infers that he was unsuccessful in convincing Canton to get on board and therefore had nothing concrete to reference in this discussion that Regula did.
QUESTION: COUNTY FACILITATION IN HIRING EX-FELONY OFFENDERS
Video of Q&A
Both candidates have he proper answer insofar as the SCPR is concerned.
Each favors continuation of hiring policies of considering one time felony offenders getting a second chance in consideration for county employment.
QUESTION: WHAT SHOULD COMMISSIONERS DO TO CAPITALIZE ON HALL OF FAME VILLAGE PROJECT? ALSO, WOULD CANDIDATES CONSIDER RAISING THE "BED TAX?"
Video of Q&A
The SCPR favors John Mariols approach to dealing with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP).
He like most Stark Countians is excited about the prospects that the project itself and the spin off from it will be a economic boon to Stark County.
However, he tempered his enthusiasm with a consideration of unforeseen consequences that could come along with pumping $500 million plus into a relatively small space of Stark County.
Regula seemed unconcerned about such a possibility.
The SCPR's read is that the HOF-VP boosters are far short of the $500 million or more that will be needed to complete the project.
And Canton/Stark County and perhaps other county political subdivisions will have to ante up additional millions in infrastructure improvements.
Will an increase in the county bed tax and the creation of a Tourism Tax District in the immediate HOF-VP area pay for the added cost to the taxpaying public for improved and additional facilities be adequate?
Neither candidate adequately addressed this question.
Councilman Mariol was right to chastise the current set of commissioners for not being front and center in participate directly in the ongoing discussion as the HOF-VP unfolds.
Regula's "we have working in the background" does not quite cut it.
Regula did take an active role in facilitating the sale of a couple of Stark Metropolitan Housing sites to the HOF-VP entity.
QUESTION: ASIDE FROM NEEDING TO RENEW THE 1/2 CENT COUNTY SALES TAX (2019), WHAT ARE THE MOST PRESSING FINANCIAL ISSUES FACING STARK CO. AND HOW WOULD THE CANDIDATES DEAL WITH THOSE ISSUES?
Video of Q&A
An excellent question which neither of the candidates adequately answered.
Neither raised the idea that perhaps the 1/2 cent sales tax needs to be bumped up to 3/4th of a cent or even to a penny.
The Report thinks Mariol's "growth is the answer" is "pie in the sky" stuff that is not going to pay for moving the county forward aggressively in economic development as he advocates for.
Regula seemingly is relying on the Justice System Sales Tax (the 1/2 cent increase voter approved in 2011) to be the goose who increasingly lays golden eggs.
Not likely to happen.
What goes up in terms of the overall U.S./Ohio/Stark County economy surely can and undoubtedly go down.
And, as Regula pointed out there is some $12 to $15 million due bill not later than probably late 2017 or early 2018 that will have to be forked out to pay for a state of the art emergency services radio upgrade.
Regula also overly relies on the Stark Development Board and the Port Authority as being adequate ways to deal with future Stark County economic development growth.
QUESTION: CHARTER GOVERNMENT FOR STARK COUNTY?
Video of Q&A
This question is a non-starter in Stark County.
The answers of the candidates indicate an understanding of this Stark County political reality.LO
To echo Rich Desrosiers, these two candidates are quality candidates for county commissioner.
Regula has proven in performance that he is a competent commissioner and Mariol project that he would be the same.
There is no clear winner/loser in in the Mariol/Regula discussion of issue facing the commissioner to succeed Thomas Bernabei over the next four years.