Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Former Stark County chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., is not leading prospective replacement chair Randy Gonzalez in a realistic direction.

Last week, the "heir apparent" to Maier called a meeting with the Stark County union leadership with the announced objective of shoring up the almost non-existent relationship between organized labor and the organized Stark Democratic Party.

Yes, unions still campaign for and contribute to Democratic candidates, but with one important difference. Since Maier wrecked the party relationship with unions when he made Billy Sherer (retired ironworker) step down from the Stark County Board of Elections, the party chairman can no longer make a phone call to Stark's union halls and direct union resources to aid party favorites.

Stark unions have viewed the board perk to be theirs as a reward for being a dependable ally of Democrats in local elections. When Maier became chairman some six years ago, one of the things he began spreading among non-union Democrats was to question the value of Stark County unionists to the campaigns of Democratic candidates.

Undoubtedly, this filtered back to the locals, which obviously did not set well, and then they get they get blasted out of the water by Maier when he forced Sherer out in favor of is personal political ally Sam Ferruccio citing the phony-baloney "edict?" from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner that Democrats have an attorney representative on the board.

So now the unions pay no heed to the party chairman's druthers. They figure out which candidates are truly "union-friendly" and devote their attention to these races.

Well, Gonzalez, in calling the meeting - being a tad or two smarter than Maier - realizes that there will come a day when the climate will not be so favorable to running as a Democrat as it currently is countywide in Stark and has started a project to rebuild the relationship that Maier all but destroyed.

Problem is that Gonzalez did not reach out to the most powerful union man in all of Stark County: Dan Scuiry, president of the Hall of Fame AFL-CIO. Consequently, only two unionists showed up at the Gonzalez/Union pow wow; namely, Mike McElfresh (the union member who ran against Ferruccio for the board seat; getting resoundingly defeated) and Tim Litman of the ironworkers.

Here is an aside on the Gonzalez/Sciury saga. A few years back a local union lady decided she wanted to run for Jackson Township trustee (Gonzalez's political base). Of course, Sciury and Stark union membership are interested in getting behind one of their own. Naturally, the unions supported this lady.

But not Randy Gonzalez a former Jackson trustee and current fiscal officer.

Sciury and his fellow union members figure Gonzalez cost their candidate the election.

So there is another source of "bad blood" that persists to this day.

The SCPR believes the meeting was largely a failure with Gonzalez pretty much holding the Maier ground. A source tells the SCPR that Gonzalez came out of the meeting saying "no promises were made."

A more interesting Gonzalez observation was: "In the end the unions will come around to supporting Democrat candidates" (paraphrase)

Talk about being taken for granted!

Though riding high right down, the SCPR predicts that the future will be troublesome for Stark Democratic officials and soon-to-be chairman Gonzalez.

Healy is disintegrating and is not re-electable as mayor of Canton. Gary Zeigler, Stark County treasurer, is toast for his next re-election campaign (even though it is nearly three years away). Stark's Republicans are planning on going after Stark County Auditor Kim Perez big time next year. Even Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley might be in a sweat to retain his commissioner's seat.

If the Stark County Citizens Right to Vote Committee can get its act together and get the repeal of the commissioner imposed 1/2% sales/use tax on the ballot and successfully repeal the tax, then Bosley could be vulnerable. Bosley defeated incumbent Republican commissioner Richard Regula in 2006 on the premise that he was going to fix Stark County's fractured 9-1-1 system.

It is hard to see how the 9-1-1 repair can happen if the sales/use tax is repealed.

Indeed there is a time coming that Stark County Democrats are going to need organized labor in order to hold political serve in Stark County.

Isn't it a bit far fetched for Gonzalez to think he can patch up party/union relations when the big union kahuna and 12 or so of his proteges are on the sidelines?

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