Thursday, June 30, 2011


Had Stark County Democrats not fallen on hard times with what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has called "Zeiglergate," Chief Deputy Rick Perez would be running for sheriff to replace the once again retiring (2nd as sheriff) Tim Swanson.

Fairly or unfairly, Rick's brother Kim (the county auditor up until March of this year) was perceived by the Stark County voting public has not having done enough - in a "check and balance" sense -  to figure out that not all was right at the Stark County treasury and thereby help law enforcement officials figure out that the then Deputy Chief Treasurer Vince Frustaci was stealing county money.  Consequently, he was defeated for re-election by Republican Alan Harold.

Republicans (Commissioner Janet Creighton - the point person - in the opinion of the SCPR) were quick to jump on Perez and the likes of Sheriff Tim Swanson and his chiefs at the sheriff's department (but also implicitly Prosecutor John Ferrero, Recorder Rick Campbell, to name a few more) as being part of a political "good ole boy" network that did not produce effective, efficient government for Stark Countians.  Rather, the Republican line goes, they deal in the world political favoritism and cronyism and not necessarily in the best interests of Stark Countians.

The Republican initiative seems to have worked.  Subsequent to Sheriff Swanson anointing Rick Perez to be his successor in front of a Signature class group of Leadership Stark County (a Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsored effort) that was visiting the Stark County Jail at the invitation of class member Perez, it has become abundantly clear that Rick Perez cannot be elected sheriff.

The sheriff had to be thinking:  "if not Perez, who?"  After all there is a Sheriff Tim Swanson legacy to protect!

The SCPR believes that he prevailed upon his other chief deputy, Mike McDonald, to run.

McDonald, after a Tuesday night Stark County commissioner hearing (mandated by Ohio law) on whether or not the county should put a 1/2 cent sales tax on the November ballot, denied to The Report that he was following Swanson's direction in running for sheriff.

Such a protestation is hard for The Report to swallow.

If the overall political climate had not turned against Perez, Mike McDonald you mean to tell me you were going to run against Rick Perez in a Democratic Party primary?  Who would believe that?

By the way, as a matter of a sidenote to who or who might not run against McDonald in a Democratic primary in March or May of 2012, Canton Safety Director Tom Ream has emphatically told the SCPR that he is not running.  He did admit, however, that he had been asked to consider running.  Also, McDonald tells The Report that he has talked to Jackson Police Chief David Zink and came away from the discussion thinking that Zink would not be running.

One might think of McDonald's "I made my own decision" as being an attempt to distance himself from Swanson who has become a political pariah in Stark County because of his "poop on the people" outburst at a Stark County commissioners' meeting (December, 2008) in which the commissioners were deciding whether or not to impose a 1/2 cent sales tax (which they did do).

Moreover, Swanson is perceived to be a close confidant (at least at one time) of reinstated Treasurer Gary Zeigler (needs bond to be official).  Swanson has made a number of public statements (including letters to the editor) attesting for Zeigler as being a quality treasurer.  Also, he, Zeigler and Prosecutor Ferrero have a history of having run a joint campaign for re-election.

But, when asked by the SCPR whether or not Swanson's support (which the sheriff has profusely bestowed on McDonald in local media) was a good thing or a bad thing, McDonald answered by saying that Swanson has many admirers across Stark County.

The Report then turned to the question of the future of Chief Deputy Rick Perez, should McDonald be elected.

The - up until then - profuse McDonald buttoned up real quick.  "I won't discuss that," he said.  "I wonder if it is legal to discuss that," he said.  When pressed by the SCPR, he adamantly persisted in refusing to answer the question.

Hmm?  Will Stark County voters let him get away with that?

Among other matters that came up in the SCPR/McDonald exchange included whether or not he thought his Republican opponent was going to be Larry Dordea (who ran against and lost to Swanson in 2008).

McDonald said that he is hearing reports both ways.

Asked whether or not the fact that he is retired as a public official would factor into the fall/2012 campaign, he replied that he was sure that it would.  He pointed out that if Dordea is his opponent that he also is a retired public official having retired as Alliance police chief.  Additionally, he pointed out that Dordea is Chief of Police for Hartville and an Alliance city councilman (he is running for re-election).

The most pressing thing on McDonald's mind Tuesday night seemed not to be that Dordea could be (the SCPR thinks definitely will be) his opponent but rather that his support of the 1/2 cent sales tax increase that Stark County commissioners are posed to place on the November, 2011 ballot would be tantamount to committing political suicide.

Here is Mike McDonald in his own videotaped words from Tuesday night's hearing:

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