Monday, August 17, 2009


Recently Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote told the Massillon Independent that he is ready to file the group's signatures to put the December, 2008 Stark County commissioners imposed 0.50 county sales/use tax to a vote of the people.

Of course, just the notion of a ballot box fight is exciting to those of us who follow Stark County politics.

But this fight has an added dimension.

The leader of the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote (Tom Marcelli) has a history, chronicled in local media, of challenging various county officials to "duke it out" over his differences with them over things such as the imposed tax (Bosley) and how various officials (particularly, Auditor Kim Perez and Treasurer Gary Zeigler) administrate their offices.

While not opposed to the ballot initiative, the SCPR has been skeptical of the Marceill-led group to pull off getting nearly 14,000 valid signatures.

A SCPR source tells yours truly that if Marcelli was the only person providing leadership to the group, the SCPR could be right. But, the source adds, there have been Stark County "heavy hitters" working sub rosa to make sure the Stark Citizens Right to Vote cohort is successful.

Could one of these sub rosa people be Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) deputy director and Stark County Republican Party chairman Jeff Matthews?

Readers are reminded that Matthews (who asks county commissioners, from time-to-time, in capacity with the BOE for more money for the BOE) appeared at "Tea Day, Tax Day - April 15, 2009" encouraging those assembled to support the petition drive.

What's more, his sidekick at Stark County Republican headquarters (Jason Wise) was the local leader of "Tea Day, Tax Day."

The SCPR believes Matthews has a huge conflict in interest on this matter.

So if the SCPR's source is correct, Commissioner Bosley is about to embark on a fight for his political life beginning August 20th.

The next date in what could be a "political Waterloo" for Bosley is November 3, 2009 should Round One go to the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote.

Bosley worries a lot as to who will be running against him in November, 2010. The SCPR believes - that should "the repeal the imposed sales/use tax" make it to the ballot and then lose - Bosley will have an all out challenge from the Stark Republicans come 2010.

So it's not only Stark County financial solvency and 9-1-1 funding that is at state in this political fight, but it could mean the end of Todd Bosley as an elected Stark County official.

Bosley is already lining up county officials to take on the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote. He presumes that the repeal issue will make it to the ballot. And, he is structuring the fight as an "us" against "them" tiff.

The SCPR believes that Bosley statements appearing in Stark County media that lend credence to a sort of "us" against "them" approach are "unthought" and could give the anti-forces the ammo they need.

To rephrase the point: Is it wise to make this issue one that appears to be county officeholders and their employees versus Joe and Sally Smith?

If they are on the ballot in November and the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote can fix in the public mind that they represent the people and Bosley et al the established political order, then the odds favor the citizen action group.

From the county perspective, they need to frame the contest in the context of convincing voters that 9-1-1 is broken and voters' personal safety is tied to fixing it and that if the tax is repealed the county will be in a financial crisis that Stark has never seen before which could lead to draconian cuts in county government services.

It is beginning to look as if Stark Countians need to brace themselves for one of the biggest political fights this county has ever seen.

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