Friday, April 28, 2017


UPDATED:  04/30/2017





UPDATED:  04/29/2017

Analysis of the Quality of Canton Council Members

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Watching the election returns in the Democratic primary of March 15, 2016.

Political novice and unknown Katherine Baylock leading former Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson in an effort by him to reclaim a seat that he held from 2009 through 2012.

Exactly what Ferguson was when he ran against and defeated Republican political veteran John P. Hagan who had be 50th Ohio House District state representative in the eight years preceeding the 2008 county commissioner race.

But there is a major difference.

Pete Ferguson has been a Canton-based chiropractor for over 40 years.

So far as I know, Katherine Baylock does not have a similar notoriety in Canton/Stark County.

As the election returns continued to roll in on the 2016 Democratic primary for commissioner
  • (a post won by Republican and former Canton Township trustee Bill Smith in general election over Democratic nominee Stephen Slesnick [he like Hagan having served in the Ohio House for eight years prior to the commissioner race]
I fully expected, as undoubtedly did nearly every other political junkie in Stark County did, that Ferguson would pull away from Blaylock and challenge Slesnick in a nip and tuck race for the Democratic nomination.

Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise!

Baylock came in a somewhat distant second to Slesnick.

I think that the likely winners on Tuesday will be:
  1. Bill Smuckler,  
  2. Jimmy Babcock (Ward 3)
  3. Corey Minor-Smith
But who knows this day and age.

It could be:
  1. Bill Smuckler (Ward 8)
  2. Corey Minor-Smith (Ward 4)
  3. Katherine Baylock (Ward 4)
And, it is likely that the three Democratic nominees, whomever they are, will win in November in the heavily Democratic Canton.

However, if former Councilman Richard Hart decides to run to reclaim his council-at-large seat he held (2014-2015), there might not be a Democratic sweep this fall.

No matter who wins Tuesday and no matter who wins in November, Canton City Council will not be an improved deliberative body.

Except for Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and his positive, future-thinking-perspective, council is mostly made up of plodding types at best with a few hangers-on to boot.

In my view, the "hanger-on-in-chief" is Jimmy Babcock.  Were he not the son of a former Canton mayor and long time council member, he would never have surfaced as a council member.

Other than Mack, the most capable person on council is Bill Smuckler mostly because he has been around the longest and therefore has "seen this parade before."

However, as one leading Stark County political/government figure told me off-the-record, what has Bill Smuckler really achieved for all his years in Canton government.

His ideas about government efficiencies are right on the mark, but he has been unable to translate much or any of it into policy and programs.

As I recall, former councilman Thomas West (long time Ward 2 councilperson and now a state representative replacing Stephen Slesnick) fought (along with former Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher) fellow councilman Edmond Mack's effort to bring charter government to Canton.

Their basic premise of opposition seemed to me to be based on a  premise that it was highly unlikely that candidates for the charter commission from predominately Canton African-American wards and more generally from the south side of Canton could be elected in a citywide election context.

Northside political domination (i.e. principally from Wards 8 and 9) of Canton government would likely result in a commission "recommended to voters" plan which would likely diminish African-American and Canton southside influence in Canton government.

Well, Mack's charter effort failed and so the West/Fisher concerns never ripened into an actual possibility.

If Tuesday's election were to play out along  the lines of Smuckler,  Minor-Smith and Baylock becoming the Democratic nominees; wouldn't that blow a big hole in the West/Fisher position?

Speaking of Minor-Smith and Baylock, what would they bring to the table?

Minor-Smith, first.

On her Twitter page, Minor-Smith bills herself has being the candidate to "help" and "change" Canton City Council.

I doubt that she has the political/governance girth to do either.

She is not yet a year into her being elected to the Canton City Schools Board of Education (CCS, CCSBOE) and from what I have learned, she had not made a significant contribution to repairing the badly damaged CCS educational infrastructure.

Minor-Smith has run for a judgeship (against the highly regard Richard Kubilius) and the CCSBOE. Moreover, she has held a number of public appointments (see this LINK on her background)

In her personal education she has impressive credentials and in 2009 she was named to the top 20 of under age 40 Stark County.

However, as far as I am concerned she is a underachiever big time.

She does have potential to flower into a constructive and helpful public official.  But the keyword is "potential."  Minor-Smith should serve at least one full term on the CCSBOE and demonstrate that she is in realpolitik a "help" and a "change" for the better agent of the people in a highly practical and useful way.

Right now I think she will be nothing more than a wallflower and not up to being effective as a city councilperson.

Katherine Baylock.

I was absolutely stunned that she bested Pete Ferguson in the above-referenced "for the Democratic nomination" county commissioner race.

Baylock a year earlier than the commissioner race (see graphic above, November 2015 charter commission candidate results) finished with 2,397 votes whereas Ferguson garnered 3,235.

Council candidate Nick Mussulin (see below) got but 943 votes.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the charter commission vote is predictive at all on how Baylock, Ferguson and Mussulin finish in the eight person race.

Baylock, seemingly a very nice lady, but clearly not up to being an elected Canton citywide or Stark countywide elected official.

Even Pete Ferguson by virtue of his track record as an elected commissioner was more window dressing than substantive as commissioner.

I have learned that Nick Mussulin is turning some heads and some local politicos in a position to sense a winner in the making are thinking more and more that Mussulin might surface as one of the top three Democrats to face off with independent/Republican opposition in November.

Here is Mussulin on October 19, 2015 in a video appearance before the camera of The Stark County Political Report answering questions in his run for the Canton Charter Commission.

Of course, there is the shopworn Mary Cirelli.  This election should determine once and for all whether or not she is a viable city of Canton political figure.

Ida Ross-Freeman who several everybody in winning a CCSBOE race and then lost lost time out seems likely to bring up the tail end of also rans come Tuesday.

Is Canton about to experience a touch of political irony this coming Tuesday in a context in which seemingly unprepared candidates might surface as winners?


Increasingly, it seems in American politics that one should expect the unexpected.

From Wikipedia.

In June 2014, in his bid for re-election, Cantor lost the Republican primary to economics professor Dave Brat in an upset that surprised political analysts. In response Cantor announced his early resignation as House Majority Leader, and several weeks later, he announced his resignation from Congress, which took effect August 18, 2014. Immediately thereafter, Cantor accepted a position as vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company.

Though he lost the popular vote my nearly three million votes (13 million, if one counts the votes that went to the collectivity of third party candidates), Donald J. Trump shocked most political pundits in winning a majority of the electoral college.

Could this "expect the unexpected" phenomenon be reaching all the way down to Stark County local politics?

Is Canton in for a double surprise on Tuesday?