Sunday, February 6, 2011


UPDATED 02/06/2011 AT 3:30 P.M.

The Stark County Political Report has learned that Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. of Massillon will be resigning soon from the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee.

Cicchinelli, who regards himself as a staunch "everyday" Democrat, says that the very top leadership of the Stark Dems is out of touch with rank and file Democrats and that he will be resigning from the executive committee soon.

Although not given as a reason by Cicchinelli, the SCPR believes that a primary reason is that it appears Cicchinelli that Chairman Randy Gonzalez and the top brass of the Stark "organized" Democratic Party are lining up behind Kathy Catazaro-Perry who filed last week as an opponent of Cicchinelli in the May 3, 2011 Democratic Primary.

The Report noted recently that Catazaro-Perry was huddled up with Chairman Gonzalez at Canton mayor William J. Healy, II's January 22nd formal announcement that he was running for reelection.

Mayor Cicchinelli tells the SCPR that Cody Gonzalez (chief deputy of the Stark recorder's office) and Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark Dems and chief deputy of the Massillon clerk of courts office) were camped out with Catazaro-Perry at the Stark Board of Elections (BOE) at the filing deadline in apparent support of Catazaro-Perry.

Cicchinelli is not buying Gonzalez's stated reason for being at the BOE to get the list of candidates filing for his father (Randy Gonzalez) who was out of the country.

As far as Frank Cicchinelli is concerned, the "real" chairman of the Stark County Democrats is Johnnie A. Maier, Jr who, along Massillon Municipal Court judge Eddie Elum, and Maier's political acolyte Shane Jackson has been a long time avowed political enemy of the Mayor.  He believes that Gonzalez follows Maier's directives.

The intensity of what Cicchinelli believes to be a Maier-led political attack on him has picked up since March, 2010 when an anonymous blog - strictly directed against the Mayor - sprang up.  There is no doubt, Cicchinelli says, that the blog is the brainchild of Maier and that it is most likely written by Shane Jackson.  Moreover, he thinks that Maier and Jackson are the ghost writers for Catazaro-Perry's campaign material and that they are orchestrating her campaign.

The SCPR's take on the anti-Cicchinelli blog (also with a Massillon Board of Education element to it) is that it appears to be a mimic of the now defunct Stark Politics blog which some think was written by an official of the Stark County Republican Party.  Stark Politics was pretty much a cowardly blog (i.e. written anonymously) Republican-esque (i.e. trumpeting certain kinds of Republicans; not all).  It went belly-up about two years ago.

Back to Cicchinelli.

Cicchinelli expects the campaign to be "down and dirty."

An interesting question to ponder is: who will Stark's unions support?  In the May 6, 2007 primary, Tim Bryan was "the" candidate of the trades as a consequence of a tiff between former Cicchinelli friend Mike McElfresh (now president of the trades) over Cicchinelli - according to McElfresh - not being supportive enough of the trades.  The trade unionists held rallies in downtown Massillon is support of Bryan.

The SCPR believes that the Stark trades will support Catazaro-Perry.  Cicchinelli is not ready to concede such to be the case.  He points to work with the trades leadership to get them opportunities for a recent Fresh Mark, Inc project in Massillon.

The battleground?  Whether or not Catazaro-Perry can get a majority vote in Massillon's City Council to mandate that all city contracts are subject to a master Project Labor Agreement (PLA)?

Cicchinelli says that the trades are working through a member of Council to bring a PLA proposal to the floor between now and the May election.

If she can pull it off, it is hard to see how the trades and do anything other than support Catazaro-Perry.

However, she is beset by a union perception that chief supporter Maier is not especially labor friendly. Several years ago, Maier was perceived by many as having forced well-like retired ironworker Billy Sherer, Sr from his post on the Stark Board of Elections.  A post that Stark unions had come to think as being a "labor" position inasmuch as unions almost exclusively support Democratic candidates.

Cicchinelli points out that over his political career (including the Bryan campaign) he has had strong union support from the steelworkers and the American Federation of State, Municipal and County workers (AFSCME).

The SCPR sees that union support issue could be a key on whether or not Catazaro-Perry can get to the majority vote mark in what is likely to be a 4,000 person voter base in the May 3rd election.

While The Report thinks that Catazaro-Perry has a better opportunity to win than Bryan did, Frank Cicchinelli is a political survivor and no one should be surprised if he hangs on to win another term as the mayor of Massillon.

But if he does win, it will have to be with most, if not all the local Democratic Party "powers that be," (openly, in the case of Maier, Elum and Jackson; privately, in the case of Gonzalez et al) in the Catazaro-Perry corner.

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