Monday, October 16, 2017



The 2017 North Canton city council election is pivotal in whether or not North Canton government can get its act together to serve the North Canton public in an overall effective and communicative manner.

As The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) sees the condition of North Canton government, since council appointed Tim Fox as law director in 2012, it has been a spiral downward in terms of there being a negative quality in council's relationship with the citizens of North Canton.

Council's seeming "the public be damned" attitude is especially pronounced if a citizen dare question council/the law director on matters of policy, practice and programs.

To repeat for sake of emphasis, there has been since 2012 an underlying tone of hostility emanating from council towards any who would exercise his/her fundamental American democratic-republican value of seeking "redress of grievance" in interacting with North Canton government.

It is interesting to note that incumbent Ward 3 councilwoman Stephanie Werren is the person who was selected by council—when Tim Fox, the extremely-short lived Ward 3 councilman—resigned to take the law director position.

At the time, Werren was director of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (CRCC) government leadership academy.

A perfect match, no?


As far as the SCPR is concerned, Werren as an "where the rubber meets the road 'ideal'" candidate (by virtue of her CRCC Role) to be a member of a local government somewhere in Stark County has been a major, major, major disappointment.

She misses the mark as a model of  "practicing what she preaches" to those Stark Countians who have participated in the CRCC government leadership academy on at least three counts, to wit:
  • her inability to function as a "check and balance" councilperson on the high handedness of North Canton's law director,
  • her lack of accessibility to those (critique-focused media [refuses to be interviewed by the SCPR for this election coverage series] and questioning citizens) who have policy/procedures questions regarding local government, 
  • spotty attendance record at council and board of zoning appeals meetings, and
  • that her ethics in terms of conflict in interest as a councilperson are questioned by some (reference:  the Fieldcrest rezoning issue),
    • Note:  The SCPR is told that Werren has checked with the Ohio Ethics Commission and has an opinion from the commission that she has no conflict in interest on the Fieldcrest Zoning issue,
      • However, one North Canton civic activist tells The Report that a challenge to the opinion is in process
While Werren is no longer specifically assigned to the CRCC government academy operation, she having been promoted to the directorship of the CRCC overall leadership program;  the SCPR thinks she is a poor example of having the requisite leadership qualities to justify her heading up the CRCC—cultivating leadership qualities of Stark Countians—effort.

The Werrens (her husband is a Canton Municipal Court judge) are high powered Stark County Republicans who perhaps more than any other politically engaged Stark County Republicans appear to make their "organized" political party connections work for them better than any other Republican.

The Werrens seem to the SCPR to be the Stark County Republican Party corollary to a few Democrats who have very skillfully used "organized" political party connections to enhance themselves and their families, which, in some cases, is tantamount to denying more qualified Stark Countians an opportunity.

BUT in this election THE BIG QUESTION is WHETHER or not Werren's opponent Jon Snyder (Republican and a former Ward 4  North Canton councilman and council president) IS ANY BETTER SUITED to be  North Canton Ward 3 councilperson going forward.

No doubt about it, Snyder has his own checkered political history in North Canton council government that likely will make Ward 3 voters to think long and hard about who as between the two to vote for.

In a quest to help North Cantonians decide the question, the SCPR has set about interviewing candidates for elective office in North Canton this election cycle.

Jon Snyder agree to and submitted to a 45 minute, more or less, interview.  Stephanie Werren has not.

The Report is pleased to report that Councilman at Large "incumbent" candidate Dan Griffith has agreed to a SCPR interview as has "incumbent" Ward 4 councilman Dominic Fonte and "incumbent" mayor David Held.

The Snyder/Werren Canton League of Women Voters bios:


INTRO (1:58)


In an ironical sense, when it comes to what he has to say about Werren, Ward 3 voters may question Snyder's judgment skills.

He says she surfaced from his perspective as the leading candidate back in October, 2012 because of her seeming passion and zeal for being a councilperson.

While the SCPR agrees with Snyder that Werren's "passion" to serve is certainly is in question given her "absent/inaccessible" (council meetings/Board of Zoning Appeals) propensity, it is puzzling that Snyder being the veteran he is in gauging people would fail to effectively evaluate whether or  not the interview "passion" was genuine.

Werren's attendance at council meetings is better than fellow councilperson Marcia Kiesling (R, at-large) but the SCPR is told that she very rarely if ever attends North Canton's Zoning Board of Appeals as a representative from council.

As noted by Snyder, Werren who lives in North Canton's highest priced neighborhood (North Canton Ward 3C) which abuts a former Hoover family property holding (Fieldcrest),  has come out of hibernation (its election time, folks!) and  is all of a sudden taking "the bull by the horn" on the Fieldcrest re-zoning issue now before council.

Here is Snyder on Warren.

Candidate Snyder touched on the Fieldcrest issue in the video in which he appraises effective work or lack thereof as councilperson, as the case may be,  on the part of Werren.

Of course, the Fieldcrest issue deserves more than the passing reference in the video above which issue is more fully developed a couple of video clips down from this place in today's blog.



In following video segment, he goes much more into detail about the issue and specifically questions on ethical grounds the propriety of Werren dealing with the issue.  Moreover, he offers his own solution on how North Canton should handle the issue.

An interesting aspect of Snyder's criticism of Werren (teamed up with fellow councilperson Marcia Kiesling) is the "naive" (the SCPR's word; not Snyder's) belief that council can properly (in the interest of the Ward 3 neighborhood affect, and, of course, the overall interest of North Cantonians) handle the re-zoning request WITHOUT GETTING THE HELP OF PROFESSIONAL PLANNERS.

Snyder believes that the Fieldcrest issue could well be THE ISSUE which determines the outcome of the Ward 3 election on November 7th.

The video.


One of the festering sores with many North Cantonians is the "out-of-public-view/accountability" of a nearly $1 million Community Reinvestment Area (CRA, since repealed by council) abatement to North Ridge Place, LLC. (NRPA)

Note:  abatement was reduced and the loss to North Canton City Schools [NCCS] proportionally reduced to somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000) Moreover, NCCC has repealed North Canton's CRA going forward.

In the North Ridge question part of the interview, several statements by Snyder are particularly noteworthy:
  • That somebody in North Canton government knew "by the end of the day" on which the abatement was granted,
  • The he knew about the NRPA (from the developers) within 30 days of the decision, 
  • He accepts some of the responsibility as the city council president of not being on top of the NRPA abatement process, and
  • That the NRPA was "a failure in North Canton government,"
Going forward, Snyder pledges that if elected as Ward 3 councilman he will do his part to ensure that there is never a North Ridge Place, LLC (in the sense of lack of oversight) event ever again.

Of course, his opponent Stephanie Werren (appointed Ward 3 councilperson in October, 2012) was part of a supposedly "unknowing" council.


Could Werren handle SCPR questioning about her role or lack of a role in the abatement happening outside-the-public/NCCS-view?

Here is Snyder, in his own words on North Ridge: (8:20)


Next up Snyder takes SCPR questions on the quality of neighborhoods both in substance (infrastructure) and services (e.g. EMS is getting too costly).


Snyder says that if he is elected as Ward 3 councilman he will be pushing for a restructuring of council's relationship with the law director.

Though Candidate Snyder was president of North Canton City Council when Tim Fox was selected as law director, he says that he thinks that his role in North Canton government and specifically in relation to council has gotten out of hand.

Of particular concern to Snyder are antagonistic exchanges that Fox engages in from time to time with members of the public attending council meetings.

However, Snyder assigns as one of the reasons for the Fox overreach is council's loading down of Fox with way more than is appropriate.

But in no way does Snyder excuse Fox for conduct unbecoming of a law director (the SCPR's phrase; not Snyder's) and promises to call Fox out in public meetings if he thinks such is appropriate in the context of things.

A part of a Snyder pushed for reform would be to go back to NCCC committee system as it existed in his former life as a councilperson where council members had to do their homework and be accountable in public sessions for their work product.

Snyder in his own words on the role of law director issue.  (11:04)


Generally, Snyder thinks well of how David Held has functioned as mayor.  He is particularly pleased with Held's hire of the finance director and a new administrator.  However, he has misgivings about the role of Gary Fry on housing council/economic development matters.


Snyder says:
  • he will stand on his record as a former councilman,
  • "I restore the government back to the people"!

There are those in North Canton who do not want to see Jon Snyder back on council including some of his former fellow council members.


Compared to Stephanie Werren?

A councilperson who will not allow herself to be held accountable on her NCCC record by SCPR's incisive interviewing as Snyder has subjected himself to.

No doubt, Jon Snyder has made his share of mistakes as a North Canton councilperson.  In the foregoing interview clips, he owns up to them and vows not to make the same mistakes.

The question for Werren is:  what is she afraid of in defending her record as Ward 3 councilperson?

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