Friday, October 1, 2010


With this statement in The Repository's piece yesterday:  Commissioner candidates sound off on legal powers, (material obviously discussed in the endorsement interviews of the paper's editorial board) to wit:
Candidates agreed economic development is needed to move the county forward. They aren’t sure, though, if creating a new economic development office is the way to go about it. Stark already has public-private partnerships, for example, with the likes of the Stark Development Board. (emphasis added)
Stark Countians should be despairing.  "Not sure" about "creating a new economic development office."  Whew!

Leave it or a hodgepodge of "private-public" partnerships?

  • Well, the fragmented approach makes sense if public official wants to unaccountable.  Is this what Meeks, Creighton, Walters and Bernabei are about?
The SCPR would say that Stark County voters should NOT vote for any county commissioner candidate who hasn't offered up some sort of long term economic development plan against which to be measured in four and two years, respectively.  However, that would mean not choosing among the four candidates vying for office because none of them have come forward with such a plan.

So a secondary approach for voters has to be:  whom among the four is most likely to see the light, take the bull by the horns once in office and lead the way with a bold, creative and comprehensive economic development plan with success/failure built in measurement to make the proposer accountable to the voters in 4/2 years, respectively?

Yours truly has been fighting for years now to get Stark County's leadership to to "lead!"

Although it was naive to take former Stark County commissioner Tom Harmon at his word when he was appointed by the Stark County Democratic Party in 2007 that Stark County's economic development would be his main game, all one has in these times is to hope against hope that the utterances of the one likes of Harmon (a representation of the consummate politico) really means what he/she says rather than just spewing out the political rhetoric.

Harmon never did produce on his political blandishments.  Unless, that is, his promotion of Elizabeth Burick's idea of placing a horse show arena at the Stark County Fairgrounds is anywhere near being an economic development plan.

Burick's idea is a start.  But that is all it is.  The Stark County Fairgrounds are potentially a huge Stark County asset which could with creative and visionary leadership be the anchor of a rebuilt Stark County economy.  After all, agriculture is the major economic factor in all of Stark County.

Clark County, Ohio has done a magnificent job of redeveloping its fairgrounds.  Perhaps Stark Countians can learn from Clark's experience and build upon what already has been done.

A thoughtful, energized commissioner candidate could begin with Stark's fairgrounds as a hub and showcase for an economic redevelopment project.  He/she might want to push for the creation of a "Stark Fairgrounds Economic Redevelopment Project Committee" which would be staffed by graduates of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's (CRCC)  "Leadership Stark County Signature Program."

Perhaps a retired Stark County leader of proven accomplishment in economical development in the private sector will step forward and volunteer his/her time to lead eager LSC graduates on such a quest.

Their mandate would be clear and to the point:  work with Stark County-based resources to create a concept plan for the complete reconfiguration of the Stark County Fairgrounds into a new and modernized facility that will yield manifold economic benefit for decades to come.

Concept drawings would be generated, cost would be projected and alternative and complementary sources of funding (e.g. bond, a countywide hotel and bed tax et cetera) proposed.

The SCPR has long been critical of Leadership Stark County (LSC) because it seems to The Report that its Signature and Government leadership groups are more credential and resume building phenomena than an effective producers of hands-on leaders who get things done for the benefit of Stark County.

It appears to The Report that Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei will be the winning candidates in November.  However, whomever wins, it is essential for Stark County to dig itself out of its financial and economic morass for the victors to adopt a plan of action for long term economic action.

Moreover, the winning candidate need to have a financial responsibility plan in mind from day one of taking office.

Those Stark Countians (e.g. Vote No Increased Taxes Committee) who demand full and complete efficiency in government must be heeded.

Beyond making local government totally efficient, a forward-looking commissioner must find ways to fund local government in ways that Stark Countians buy into.  A likely candidate is a sales tax which is dedicated to funding criminal justice in Stark County.  Criminal justice expenditures account for 70% of the current general fund budgeting appropriations.

All five candidates have been disappointing to the SCPR in terms of them having affirmative and specific ideas on how to solve Stark County government's economic and financial problems.

The SCPR for one will be pushing, pushing and pushing still more until the commissioners get it.

Get it?

Yes, get it.

The days are long past that Stark Countians are going to allow a commissioner more than one term in office when that commissioner has been a "mere" occupant of a commissioner's seat.

Productiveness and accountability are now the markers for all who get elected to this office.

In terms of meaningful economic development and financial planning, none of the current crop of commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson nor Meeks) have measured up.  It is interesting to note that of the three, only Ferguson is likely to remain after November's election.

The question is:  will the new commissioner(s) be a spark for a re-energized and re-invigorated Stark County or will they mirror the staid and stale approach of commissioners of the past?

Because Bernabei or Walters will filling a two-year term, Stark Countians will have an opportunity to go to two new commissioners in 2012 if Ferguson and/or the new commissioner has not moved the economic development and financial planning model forward.

The 2012 elections will be a time of holding the incumbent accountable!

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