Thursday, November 25, 2010


Stark County has had a number of local political figures step forward with a positive contribution to the well-being of our county in 2010.

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


The former county auditor, mayor of Canton and now commissioner-elect of Stark County has an opportunity to turn a bad Stark County situation into a markedly improved one.

For Creighton to run for county commissioner in the worst of times is a clear indication that she truly cares about Stark County and its citizens.  As mayor of Canton she was a cheerful person who connected well with everyday people.  Moreover, this loyal Republican worked well with an overwhelmingly Democraticall- controlled council.  Better by far than the current Democratic mayor.

Stark Countians should be thankful that a person who has been there and done that in terms of leadership has been willing to answer a call to leadership that Stark County so desperately needs.


For this former city councilman, longtime law director and Healy administration official to, along with Creighton, to step up and seek leadership in the most difficult of times for Stark County shows that he too cares about the county and its future.  He did the same thing when the Stark Area Transportation Authority (SARTA) needed someone to step into the breech when agency's leadership was suddenly vacated.

Bernabei could have passed on getting back into politics especially in view of the indignant way he was treated by fellow Democrat Mayor William J. Healy, II.  Healy was foolish enough to fire Bernabei from his key administration post.  Any chance Healy had to have a successful administration, vanished with the firing.  Bernabei could have said to himself:  Who needs the grief after his many years of public service? But he didn't.  Being the consummately civic person he is, he put personal comfort aside to answer the call to leadership.

His troubles will be different this time around.  He will not be humiliated by his peer leadership as with Healy, however, there will be troubles aplenty.  The finances of Stark County are about as bad as they can get.  As he said during the campaign to go from $56 million to about $35 million in the space of a few years just will not wash.  Somehow, someway he, Creighton and Ferguson will have to find ways and means to avoid financial catastrophe.

Solutions willbe  hard to come by for the trio of commissioners.  However, Stark Countians should be grateful that Tom Bernabei is one of our new commissioners.


Though a neophyte politician, he did very well as an independent candidate running against Bernabei/Walters in the "unexpired" term of Tom Harmon race.

Very impressively, he garnered 9.87% of the vote.   In doing so, he, perhaps, encourages others who do not carry the Republican/Democratic label to run for office.  More and more, voters are thinking that Rs and Ds do not have the answers we are all looking for.  Stark Countians should be appreciative that Todd has blazed a path for other independents and non-mainline-party hopefuls to seek office in Stark.  These are folks who could energized Stark County government and politics with fresh approaches, fresh ideas.

One other thing to be thankful for.  But for Stephen Todd, the SCPR believes Republican Jamie Walters would have been elected.  Such, The Report believes, would have been a disaster for Stark County.  Walters apparently is a man who really believes that Stark County can be run on $35 million when the criminal justice part of Stark County alone costs about $39 million.


Cantonians should especially be pleased and gratified.  The Hall of Fame City needs relief from the Healy administration and quick.  Smuckler has already defeated Healy in one Democratic primary and appears to have an excellent chance to do it again come May, 2011.

While the SCPR is not real wild about Smuckler and his ideas of economic development via annexation, he appears to be a better choice than Healy.

Smuckler's best positive point that Stark Countians as a whole should gratefully anticipate, if he is elected mayor of Canton, is his interest in consolidation, merger, cooperation within the political infrastructure of Stark County.


It will be a relief to Stark Countians to finally put the Gary D. Zeigler era behind us with Alex Zumbar's ascension to the Stark County treasurer post.  Beginning on April 1, 2009 through August 23, 2010, Stark Countians had to be demoralized as they looked on as the spectacle of Zeigler hanging on as treasurer despite calls for his resignation for not having measures in place to prevent a loss of taxpayer monies from the county treasurer at the hand of former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci.

Zumbar has done a terrific job wherever he has been as a financial person in charge be it Alliance or North Canton.


As auditor-elect, Harold has the promise of taking the politics out of who serves in the day-in, day-out jobs in the auditor's office at the pleasure of Stark County citizens and taxpayers.

It seems like the auditor's office like all too many Stark County elected offices have been places where wel -connected Republicans and Democrats have ended up with jobs to the exclusion of ordinary Stark County citizens.

The SCPR believes that outgoing auditor Kim Perez made progress in keeping politics out of employment decision.  However, The Report thinks - despite Perez's denials - that a number of his employees are on the job because of their political connections.

Harold says he is going to completely do away with politics having anything whatsoever to do with whom gets a job in the operation he runs.  Moreover, Harold says that his own partisan political connection with other Stark County officeholders will not factor in when he sees something amiss in how a county office is being run.  He repeatedly bashed Perez on this count during the campaign just concluded.

Stark Countians have to be thankful that Harold is on the record to a commitment to remove politics from who works for the county.  These jobs are for the people of Stark County; not the politically connected.


Stark County Commissioner Pete Ferguson has embraced local government efficiency as his thing to focus on during his first term as commissioner.  Up until he found this cause to promote, it appeared to the SCPR that he was floundering in his effort to find an identity as commissioner.

Ferguson's finding is calling should be a delight to Stark Countians.

While the county and City of Canton has been working on merging some of their duplicative services for a couple of years, the commissioner side of the discussions has undergone a major change and will be experiencing additional changes.

Tom Harmon is gone (December, 2009), Todd Bosley is leaving (December,2010) and Steve Meeks (in the opinion of the SCPR) served his last day as commissioner yesterday.

So Ferguson, a man with staying ability (at least until December, 2012), and a person who can see to it that Stark County government becomes more efficient.

Ferguson has embraced the rework of 9-1-1 "countywide." the notion of political subdivision coming together on putting together an Internet-based competitive bidding program, combining the Stark County and Canton health departments and a coalescing of building department functions.

Undoubtedly, Stark Countians are thankful to see government official Ferguson working diligently to save taxpayer dollars.

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