Tuesday, April 17, 2012


If running for sheriff was anything like Tennis,  it seems to the SCPR that Democratic candidate Mike McDonald (chief deputy - Jail Division) has the advantage in his race against Republican Larry Dordea (Hartville police chief and Alliance councilman) to succeed long time Sheriff Tim Swanson, who is not running for a new term.

Evidence (i.e. news of restoring laid off deputies and getting the jail to its maximum of 500 or so beds occupied by July/August) that he has the advantage was apparent at yesterday's Stark County commissioners' meeting at which McDonald appeared as "the man in charge" in terms of dispensing information to the commissioners on the pace of the sheriff' department's recovery from the draconian cuts of some 41 deputies due to 2010/2011 budget cuts.

Once a tennis game score is tied (called deuce), then the players get in into ad-in, ad-out until the ad-in, ad-out player scores the next consecutive point.  Then you have a winner!

It may be that McDonald and Dordea more or less started out in a tie.  Dordea did run a credible race against Sheriff Swanson in 2008 in a losing effort. 

Sheriff Swanson's other chief deputy Rick Perez, who everyone thought would be the candidate to succeed him, has more or less been the spokesperson for the department in recent years.

However, that all changed with the troubles that plagued the Stark County treasury and the April 1, 2009 revelation that former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen what many believe to have been $2.96 million in Stark County taxpayer money.

While the now former Treasurer Gary Zeigler (he resigned/retired on October 19, 2011) was not implicated in the theft, the then Ohio State of Auditor Mary Taylor ascribed various treasury office management deficiencies to him.  Moreover, the public perception seemed to be that that Zeigler did not have appropriate processes, procedures, practices and secure physical infrastructure in place that may have inhibited Frustaci's theft.

So how is Zeigler situation relevant to Rick Perez.

This way.

Thought to be among Zeigler's closest Stark Democratic Party political allies were Swanson, Kim Perez (the then Stark County auditor) and Chief Deputy Rick Perez (Kim's brother).

While quite a few Stark Countians, including some officeholders, thought well of Kim Perez as auditor; his perceived close association with Zeigler apprently was the political death knell of his remaining auditor.

In the 2010 election, Kim lost to Republican Alan Harold who was probably the most preeminent Republican blasting both Zeigler and Auditor Perez for not preventing and/or detecting the Frustaci theft. 

As the political associations became known to the general public via the media (Swanson, Kim Perez, Rick Perez et cetera - "the good ole boys" - vis-a-vis Zeigler), their political stock took a nosedive.

It remains to be seen whether or not the likes of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, Recorder Rick Campbell and Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold (all certainly Stark County Democratic Party insiders; perhaps, also seen as part of "the good ole boys" network) will be affected in their attempts to be reelected this November.

The Report believes that Swanson dropped Perez as his preferred successor because he in consultation with the likes of Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez determined that Rick Perez could not be elected.

McDonald, while a loyal Democrat, for some reason is not generally seen in the same light as Swanson, the Perez brothers and, perhaps, Ferrero, Campbell and Reinbold as thorough going politicos.

If The Report is correct in analyzing that McDonald has managed to be unaffected by political blight, then such may be an edge that allows him to score another point and win game:  McDonald versus Dordea.

From what the SCPR has seen of Dordea's plan to reform operations at the Stark County sheriff's department, (CLICK HERE FOR LINK) he appears to be best equipped to get the most bang for the limited bucks available to the sheriff in 2013 and beyond even with the passage of the 0.5 sales tax last November.

However, with the advantages that McDonald seems to have (e.g. running in an incumbent-esque fashion as a spokesman bearing good news between now and the election, and, managing to avoid the Zeigler association political taint), then he may prove to be the man who will save Stark County Democrats from what appeared about a year ago to be a near certain loss of the sheriff's office.

The only other issue that could be a game changer might be McDonald's health.

When news surfaced late last year that he had a very serious health condition he was dealing with, leadership Democrats were concerned that McDonald would not be up to making the run.

The SCPR asked McDonald at yesterday's commissioner work session:  "How's your health?

Answer:  "I feel so good, I could do cartwheels!"


If McDonald is as fit as he says he is:   Game over?

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