Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It has been almost three years ago to the day that political allies Beverly Green (mayor of Hartville) and Anna Erb (clerk-treasurer) were in the process of stepping down from public office and their combining to re-enter Hartville's political mishmash this month.

Green stepped down involuntarily as a consequence of  being defeated for re-election as mayor by Edsel Tucker in the November, 2007 election.

Erb, voluntarily; in resigning (December, 2007) after serving since 1984 as clerk-treasurer.

Now the two are apparently politically rejuvenated in joining forces to put a stop to a planned Hartville sewer treatment plant expansion in a collateral way.

A collateral way?  Yes, Hartville's mayor (Tucker) and the majority of council want to raise sewer rates to provide some of the financing for the estimated $6.2 million project.

Green and Erb have filed a petition with the village (December 13th) as a prelude to verification of the validity of signatures by the Stark County Board of Elections for placement of the issue on the ballot for a vote of Hartville voters.  A previous effort by Green and Erb failed in June of this year when Ron Starkey (the village solicitor) ruled that their petitions did not meet state requirements for referendum. 

Hartville is under Ohio Environmental Protection Agency orders to expand its sewer treatment capacity and is trying to do so with a combined federal grant ($2.8 million) and loan (nearly $3.5 million).  The loan repayment is to be financed with a 52% increase in residential sewer rate increases for a period beginning in 2009 and continuing into 2011.

In June, state officials instructed village officials to stop the expansion project pending the resolution of the issue at the ballot.  Since the issue did not make it to the ballot on the June initiative, presumably the same state applies and there will be a halt in the project pending the outcome of a vote.  This has already engendered several hundred thousands of dollars in planning expenses.

The SCPR believes that the fight over the plan to achieve the mandatory sewer expansion is at its heart a political fight between pro-Tucker forces and pro-Green/Erb forces.

Tucker was the lead person in scuttling a Green (as mayor) project to extend a water line to the Hartville Industrial Park.  As an interesting aside, last week at the Canton City Council formed Canton Water Commission meeting, discussion included an observation that Canton's expansion of its water line to Hartville does not appear to have been a good investment.  Had the Green plan gone forward, would the thinking be different?

Anyway, there are those that believe that the Green/Erb initiative on the sewer rate reduction as a way to stop the Tucker sewer expansion plan is political payback for Tucker's action against Green's water line extension plan, and the fact that Tucker unseated Green as mayor and his being behind a change (in concert with Green/Erb enemies on council) to eliminate Erb's clerk-treasurer position.

In the November election before Erb resigned (December 21, 2007), she handily defeated Tucker political ally Tom Hough (who sits on Hartville's council).

With Tucker's election, Erb undoubtedly could see the handwriting on the wall and resigned rather than face political humiliation by Tucker et al,

In the spring of 2008, the clerk-treasurer position became a council appointed position.

An interesting twist to the political intrigue going on in Hartville is a prediction by a leading Hartville figure who is not hostile to Tucker that if he were taking bets on whether or not Tucker will run for re-election, he would bet that Tucker will not run again.


If not Tucker himself, who would be Tucker's stand in?  Councilman Tom Hough?

Perhaps an Erb/Hough rematch, but for mayor this time?

Or would it be Bev Green returning to office?

Hartville offices are non-partisan in the official sense.

But in reality, they are highly political.

With the resignation of Tucker ally Ron Currie, council itself could be in for a political remake.  Right now it appears to the SCPR that Councilpersons Cynthia Billings, Kelly Ries and Jim Sullivan are more or less in the Green/Erb camp whereas, Ron Beltz and Tom Hough are Tuckerites.

Council has thirty days to decide on a Currie replacement.  If The Report's estimate on alignment is correct, then Beltz and Hough could find themselves in a minority real soon.

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