Thursday, November 26, 2009


Stark County has had a number of local political figures step forward with a positive contribution to the well-being of our county in 2009.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) recognizes the following for their contributions to better government and/or making current officeholders more accountable.

MIKE REHFUS (Stark County Engineer) demonstrated exemplary courage and steadfastness despite an ongoing battle with cancer which resulted in him untimely death on November 11th at age 49.

It is not surprising that Rehfus was courageous to the end.  Courage is a quality that he has shown over his tenure as county engineer.

He pushed for an increased license plate fee so that the Stark County is better positioned to construct new roads and rehabilitate  roads and bridges greatly in need of repairs. 

In 2008, he convinced Commissioners Bosley and Vignos to support imposition of the fee over Commissioner Gayle Jackson's objection.

Rehfus is the quintessential county official for streamlining operations and thereby doing more with less in terms of personnel.

Despite his illness, he worked hard with Commissioners Bosley and Harmon to effectuate a merger between the engineer's operations with that of the Stark County Sanitary Engineer which will prove to be highly beneficial for Stark County taxpayers who will enjoy more performance for less money because of the merger.

For his many years of service to Stark County, Stark Countians, indeed, are thankful that Mike Rehful came our way.

CHARLES BROWN (judge/Stark County Court of Common Pleas).  Judge Brown is a leading member of  a group of  Stark County jurists (Common Pleas) who have been and continue to work hard to facilitate the return of Stark Countians, who have gone awry of the law,  to a restored position in the Stark County community.

Moreover, Brown is a leader in working with Stark Countians across-the-board to go back to the drawing board to find ways and means to adequately fund Stark County government in the light of the failed Issue 5 which was designed, in part, to provide sorely needed revenues for the Stark County general fund.

Undoubtedly, Judge Brown would be the first to say that he, along with Judges Lee Sinclair and Tayrn Heath the visible part of the Stark County judiciary working in a "let's work together" mode with the Stark County public to put together a funding mechanism for Stark County which will meet county needs as well as working for the taxpaying public.

What is impressive about the judges' effort is that they could just sit back and let other county officials "twist in the wind."

How's that?

Ohio law empowers county judges to mandate county commissioners to fund whatever the judges say their financial needs are.

But Stark County's judges have not rested on this prerogative and have chosen instead to be caring of the needs of the entire county.  For this attitude, Stark Countians are thankful.

WAYNE SCHILG (Marlboro Township trustee).  Trustee Schilg has just gone through the most trying time of his political life.

Schilig was caught in the middle of a battle between Trustees Tim Wise (who was defeated on November 3rd) and Trustee Dave Wolf (who chose not to run for re-election) over Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies and son Kyle's activities on transitioning from Kyle being Marlboro's computer man to a successor caretaker.

The SCPR is not going to dwell in any more detail on the particulars of the "disagreement." and, instead focus on Schlig and his abiding efforts to conciliate.

In the end, he was unsuccessful for reasons he could not control.  But his mediating efforts were not in vain.  For they created the foundation for healing within Marlboro Township. 

Stark Countians, at large, and Marlboro residents, in particular are certainly thankful for have the likes of a Wayne Schilg serving the citizens in a constructive and helpful way.

LOUIS GIAVASIS (Plain Township trustee) has lead the way in showing that in troubling economic times, government leaders at all levels can anticipate and take measures to avoid a financial meltdown in trying economic times.

Giavasis very unselfishly gives fellow trustees Al Leno and Pam Bossart (who will be leaving as trustee on December 31st because she did not seek re-election) full credit for the good fiscal condition that Plain Township is in as 2010 approaches.

Under the Giavasis-led Plain Township trustee effort, the SCPR evaluates Plain to be "the best run Township in all of Stark County," and ranks in the upper tier for all of Ohio.

Another Giavasis quality that Plain Township residents are undoubtedly thankful for is Lou's tenaciousness.

From the day that the anchor store left the Oakwood Square Shopping Center in Plain (years ago), Giavais has worked tirelessly to get a replacement.

It appears that he may realize his goal soon.  For this persistence and durability, Plain Township residents are surely thankful.

RANDY GONZALEZ (9-1-1 Stark County Council of Governments [SCOG] Governance Committee chairman and Jackson Township fiscal officer).

Gonzalez has a terrific characteristic of marshaling community forces to solve a problem.

If Stark County achieves a state-of-the-art centralized 9-1-1 dispatch, it very likely will be because of Gonzalez.  He has a knack for bringing people together who come from different "turf," and getting them to work together on a commonly beneficial project.

Gonzalez is close to pulling off "a coming together" on the 9-1-1 project.  He says he is about 90% towards reaching his goal.  The SCPR believes his number is credible and that the dissidents will come aboard in time.

In years to come, when Stark Countians dial 9-1-1, it is very likely that those who remember the Gonzalez effort on 9-1-1 will utter to themselves a "thank you."  While Stark Countians in general may not know about the Gonzalez effort, they too will be thankful that that "unknown" person who pushed 9-1-1 into being a high quality emergency services center. 

CHARLES SNYDER (member of Vote No Increased Taxes Committee and newly elected Fairless school board member).

Among the basic points of the Vote No Increased Taxex Committee made during their campaign, first, to put the "imposed" 0.50 sales/use tax increase up for a vote and, second, to find a cheaper way to rework 9-1-1.

A primary person shepherding the Vote No group was Charles Snyder.

A keystone of a democracy is that citizens need to have a say in the decisions that are made by public officials in their conducting public policy and operations.  While yours truly ended up vote to ratain the imposed tax, all Stark Countians certainly have to be thankful to Snyder and his cohorts for ensuring that we - the citizens of Stark County - did get to vote for or against retaining the tax.

The SCPR believes that an spin-off of the vote effort and the decision of Stark Countians (64% of those who voted) not to retain the tax was that, perhaps, the Vote No Increased Taxes Committee had a point that the 9-1-1 rehab could be done for significantly less money (in terms of new taxes) and in a way more palatable to Stark Countians.

Though some may see Snyder and his fellows in the Vote No context as being negative; a fair look at the committee effort sifts out positives for which Stark Countians are certainly thankful.

MARK BUTTERWORTH (Councilman-elect Canton's 8th ward).

Up by 14 votes as this piece is being written, it appears that Republican Mark Butterworth has broken the stranglehold that Democrats have on elective office in Canton.

Canton is on the brink of bankruptcy and a primary reason is the lack of political competition and youth among Canton's public officials.

Canton's 8th ward has been held the past four years by a well known Canton Democrat with strong ties to organized labor.  But Mark Butterworth was not intimidated and in running a highly effective campaign, he very likely has ousted the Democrat and will bring a fresh political perspective and a touch of youth to Canton City Council.

If the result should turn around on a recount, Butterworth has still made a noble contribution to the well-being of the body politic in Canton.

Butterworth's infusing local government with competition and youthful vigor is something for all Stark County's citizens to be thankful for.

TODD BOSLEY has slipped from the top of the list to eighth because of some difficult issues that he has not handled well, but, nonetheless, he still demonstrates, more than any other county official a purposefulness, a stamina and a vision for Stark County that tops all other non-judicial elected officials.

Despite setbacks, Bosley demonstrates daily his commitment to repair Stark County's 9-1-1 dispatch in to a state-of-the-art operation.

One of Bosley's finer qualities is his willingness to get into difficult situations to effect a "coming together" of folks at odds with each other or with Stark County government in Lawrence Township  (road ingress/egress) and Nimishillen Township (flooding concerns) and to avoid a funding standoff with the Stark County Veterans Service Commission - to make some but not all of his efforts.

Stark Countians have benefited from and are appreciative of Bosley's hard work.

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