Monday, November 15, 2010


Talk about bad choices!  Commissioner Steven Meeks made one early this year when he opted out of the race that he was appointed to fill on December 15, 2009 when Tom Harmon's resignation from the Stark County Board of Commissioners became effective.

The lure of a four year term was more than Meeks could resist.

Had he elected to stay with the two years remaining on Harmon's term, he probably would not be looking at being forced (by Stark County voters) into retirement as commissioner not later than a week from tomorrow.  

November 23rd is the deadline for former Canton law director Tom Bernabei to be certified by the Stark County Board of Elections as the winner in his face off against Republican Jamie Walters and independent Stephen Todd.  Unless the certification is moved up to sometime before 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (the 16th), Meeks will be doing his last meeting as commissioner on the 17th.  If the certification does get moved up, then Meeks is already done.

The SCPR believes he would have had a much better chance to retain office had he decided to stay with Harmon's unexpired term.
Actually, The Report believes that Meeks would have done better against Walters and independent candidate Stephen Todd than Bernabei did.  In fact, The Report's analysis is that had Todd not been in the race, Bernabei would have lost to Walters.  

Bernabei, who has spent all his political life in Canton and therefore - apparently - is not that well known and/or appreciated in suburbia.  Meeks could have held the predominantly Democratic areas as did Bernabei, but could have cut into Walters' strength at least in Jackson Township.  Perhaps, enough so, that he would not have needed the help of Todd to emerge the victor.

But the fact of the matter is that Meeks seems to not have counted on drawing Creighton in the full term race.  Originally, Walters filed for the full term Republican primary.  However, when Creighton determined she wanted to be commissioner, Walters was swept aside by the Republican "powers that be" and relegated to running for the Harmon unexpired term.

Meeks is only 52 years of age.  What is he to do?  Is he at the end of the line insofar as a political career is concerned?

Elected as Jackson Township trustee in 2000, he served two terms and then found that his key associations (i.e. then Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., and Executive Vice President Randy Gonzalez - also a fellow officer holder in Jackson; now as fiscal officer) propelled him into a political plum of a job with the newly elected Strickland administration.  Meeks was appointed by Strickland to be his "eyes and ears" as Region 9 director.

Meeks served as Strickland's man until Tom Harmon (also a Maier devotee) decided (after getting appointed to former Commissioner Gayle Jackson's commissioner spot - she left to become a Strickland appointee to The Lottery Commissioner in mid-2007; Jackson also being a Johnnie A. Maier, Jr loyalist) to vacate his office effective December 15, 2009.

It is interesting to see Meeks, Harmon, Jackson and Maier himself snare state and/or local offices for themselves and those close to them as if public jobs were their entitlement.

So what is Meeks to do now that he is out in the political cold?  Or, is he?

He was making about $76,500 as commissioner.  How can he fill the financial void?

For one thing, the SCPR believes he will take on Jamie Walters for the trustee seat that Meeks once held in Jackson and tried to pass onto his wife.  But, even if he does and is successful, that is not enough one would think.

The SCPR believes the wheels are turning among the Gonzalez, Jackson and Maier political collaborative to find new political jobs for Meeks and Gayle Jackson (who undoubtedly will be replaced by Republican Governor-elect John Kasich). 
Of course, Maier himself faces re-election in 2011 as Massillon's clerk of courts.  Once has to wonder whether or not Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. is not scouting around for someone to run against Maier.

Kind of a payback for the likelihood that Maier appears to be working to get either Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry or Judge Eddie Elum to run against Chicchinelli?

It is one thing for Steve Meeks to be out of a public job.

It would be a big time political earthquake of gigantic proportions if career politician Maier were brought to heel, no?

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