Wednesday, December 7, 2011



The best news that Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez has had in many a moon.

Democrat and Plain Township Trustee Louis P. Giavasis tells the SCPR that he is going to run for the 1-3-13 Stark County commissioner post being vacated by Pete Ferguson.


With Pete Ferguson's announcement yesterday that he is not running for re-election, all Hell broke loose today as to who is running and who is not running for Stark County commissioner.

The filing deadline is tomorrow.

As the SCPR sees possible matchups:

One of the candidates who the SCPR believes has the ear of Stark GOP Chairman Jeff Matthews believes that the Republicans are in the process of winnowing down to one candidate per commissioners slot.

One of the slots which appears to be set is for local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley to take on incumbent Democratic Commission Tom Bernabei.

The second race appears to be a little dicier.

Of course, Richard Regula has taken out petitions to run in both races.  However, it seems to the SCPR that his real opportunity will be to get the party nod for the seat that Ferguson is vacating IF Jackson Trustee James N. Walters decides not to run.

By The Report's estimate, Walters would have won his 2010 contest against Bernabei had an independent candidate not run.

While it is a little surprising that Walters does not want a rematch with Bernabei, it sort of makes sense to The Report because as yours truly sees it Bernabei is a much more formidable candidate given his countywide exposure as commissioner having finished out the term of Democrat Tom Harmon succeeded by Steve Meeks (who decided to run for a full term against Republican Janet Creighton - the wild decision that was).

Bernabei and Creighton, in the opinion of the SCPR, with their aggressive initiative was the reason why Issue 29 (the 0.5% sales tax increase issue) passed.

They instituted open, accessible, transparent, communicative and informative processes which was effective to achieve enough of a turnaround in the Stark County public's attitude to get the tax passed.  In visiting 21 Stark County communities from February through June of this year, the commissioners including Bernabei of course achieved a level of connectedness that Stark County has not seen in a number of years.

Consequently, Craig Conley has an uphill battle in his quest to unseat Bernabei.

The SCPR believes it is the 1-3-13 seat that is being vetted (as to who will be running) between today and tomorrow.  The Report thinks that if Walters wants to run that he will get the help of Stark GOP officials to nudge Butterworth and Regula not to file.

The Democratic side is likely a different story.

Bill Smuckler has told The Report he is in for sure.

Smuckler, like Bernabei before he ran in 2010, only has a political life in Canton.  Outside of Canton he is relatively unknown.  Accordingly, he would face the same problem Bernbei did in a countywide race.

Stark Dem Chairman Randy Gonzalez has to be beside himself that Pete Ferguson surprisingly and at the last minute decided not to run for re-election.  His decision makes it very likely that the Republicans have a great chance to win control of the commissioners office in November, 2012.

As the SCPR sees it, the main hope for the Dems to keep the 1-3-13 seat is if someone like Giavasis runs.  Even he is far from a sure bet especially if Walters in his opponent,  Moreover, The Report finds it hard to believe that Bosley (said to be interested in running and said to have organized labor in his corner), with his having been part of "imposing" a 0.5% sales tax in December, 2008, could win against just about any Republican.  He might, with a big union assist, win a Democratic Primary depending on who the opposition is.

Giavasis would be the Dems strongest candidate.  He has a strong political base in Plain Township to offset Walters' Jackson Township advantage and he would run well in urban Alliance, Canton and Massillon. 

He is as "snug as a bug in a rug" as Plain trustee and is not looking for other opportunities having just turned down Ohio House Democratic leader Armond Budish's entreaty that he run against Republican Christina Hagan in Stark's 50th Ohio House District.

But, again, if the Stark Dems are to retain control of the Stark County Board of Commissioners - Louis Giavasis is the key.

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