Thursday, September 30, 2010


Back in 2008 when Travis Secrest ran as the Republican candidate for Stark County commissioner against Democratic Party appointee and political warhorse Tom Harmon, the SCPR thought he was one of the most articulate candidates in the 2008 election field.

Secrest seemed to have a bright future in Stark County elective politics.

But only shades of that Travis Secrest showed up at last night's Stark County League of Voters "debate?" held in the auditorium of Timken High School in downtown Canton last night.

For this race, Timken High School was an appropriate site because it is located in the 52nd Ohio House District.  However, this is the only debate that should be held at this location.  Politically correct or not, Stark Countians are not going to want to troop down to downtown Canton no matter how safe Mayor Healy and his safety director says it is.

The Stark County League of Women Voters (the debate sponsor - using the word "debate" very loosely) obviously did not adequately publicize the event nor make a strong enough effort to get Cantoninans and Canton Township voters (the heart of the district) who live nearby to attend the event.

Another media person estimates 25 people.  The Report only counted 15.  Either number is unacceptable and the League needs to do better or get out of the debate business.

And neither of the candidates were rock stars either.

As expressed earlier in this blog, The Report was disappointed in Secrest.  He has shown much better in the past.  And yours truly gives him a pass for simply having a bad night.  It could be that as executive director of the Stark County Republican Party, he is spending too much time in the company of Stark County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Matthews.  Matthews is not exactly the SCPR's idea of a ideal mentor for an up-and-comer like Secrest.

Though he has very little chance to defeat Slesnick because the district is an overwhelmingly Democratic one, The Report believes he can do much better addressing the issues than he showed last night.  In doing so, he would put the heat on Slesnick to be a far better representative.

The Report was not disappointed in Stephen Slesnick.  He performed exactly as expected.

For Slesnick to describe himself (as he did last evening) as a "red shirt freshman legislator" is a telling self-description.  A red shirt in athletics is an athlete that is not quite ready for prime time.  At least Slesnick knows himself. 

Stark County's 52nd District voters should not be accepting of a "red shirt legislator."  Shame on Slesnick for having the audacity to run in the first place as ill-prepared as he demonstrated to the SCPR over his time in office to hold the office.

Yours truly and others criticized Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli for not being up to the demands of office when she served as state representative.

As limited as the SCPR thinks she was, Cirelli was a world ahead of Stephen Slesnick.  In hindsight, The Report thinks she did a better job than "the whiz-bang of Canton" (Mayor William J. Healy, II) who ousted her from office in 2004.

The SCPR did not hear one specific idea from either candidate.  Mostly, they did not answer the question asked and Moderator Dick Kuhn did not have the fortitude to bore in on them to get meaningful responses to questions posed.

It's questionable whether or not the event was a debate in any sense of the word.  A newbie would have had a hard time figuring out who the Republican and the Democrat among Secrest and Slesnick was.

It is really strange to see a staunchly conservative businessman being the representative for this largely urban district.  Slesnick is a company officer with Slesnick Iron & Metal (vice president since 2000).  And he acts the part of someone having had the way paved for him.

The Report is told that Slesnick shows up late for Ohio House committee meetings and often leaves early.  And for a city guy like Slesnick to be chair of the Agricultural and Development Sub-committee (see below) may be an indication of how little Ohio Speaker of the House Armond Budish thinks of him.

Also, the SCPR finds him to be inaccessible except when yours truly runs into him out on the political hustings.  Apparently, he only returns phone calls to those who throw him bouquets or softballs.

Slesnick is a classic example of what voters get when they live in a non-competitive political district.

The SCPR would like to advocate that Stark voters attend future Stark County League of Women Voters events.  But if they are to be a ditto of last night, then there are clearly better things to do.

They have three debates left.  The highlights will be Bosley versus Snitchler on October 13th, and Harold/Perez (county auditor) as well as Koher/Zumbar (county treasurer) on October 20th.

If the League can get things together for the debates of the 13th and 20th, they may be worthwhile for Stark Countians to take in.

Last night definitely wasn't as was amply testified to by the mere presence of 15 or 25 (pick your own number) who attended.

The SCPR shot a lot of footage of last night's event, but nearly all of it tells voters very little - and nothing new - about what Secrest and Slesnick would specifically do if sent to Columbus.

The Report does present a video of the opening statements of each candidate to give readers an idea of the lackluster evening that all of us had who attended the "debate?".

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