Monday, April 2, 2012


Updated:  3:25 PM

This coming Wednesday evening the Stark County Democratic Party will be holding an central committee meeting, to - among other things - select a new party chairman to serve for the next two years.

The SCPR has received a copy of former Perry Township Trustee Jim Holmes letter to sitting Chairman Randy Gonzalez announcing his intent to be a candidate at Wednesday's meeting at the Mayfield Senior Center located on 13th Street in Canton.

The Report has learned that one of Holmes' primary objectives will be to get away from the practice of the chairman to place on the executive committee only those Democrats who pledge to support the chairman in whatever proposals he may advance to the committee as practices and policies.

Holmes and Gonzalez got into a tiff in the run up to the Stark County Democratic Party election held on March 6th.  Gonzalez admits that he was behind a letter supposedly sent out by Holmes touting himself over opponent J. Fred Stergios in Perry Township's 13th precinct.

In a recent interview of Gonzalez by Matt Rink of The Massillon Independent, Gonzalez used words that makes it appear that he made a effort to get Holmes' permission prior to sending the letter out.

Holmes says that he was never contacted by Gonzalez. 

Holmes was outraged by the intrusion and it seems clear that he is not done in responding to the Gonzalez overreach.

Holmes has filed a complaint over the letter with the Stark County Board of Elections and the Ohio secretary of state.  However, Jeff Matthews and Jeanette Mullane (director/deputy director of the Stark BOE) has suggested to Holmes that he file his complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission.  Holmes in consider such an option.

Running against Gonzalez for the party chairmanship appears to be another part of his reaction.

While the likelihood of Holmes being successful is somewhere between "slim and none" with slim having just left town, it is believed that Holmes is sending a message that there is growing dissatisfaction with his leadership of the Stark Dems.

Recently, according to a source, Gonzalez agreed to make wholesale changes in the makeup of the party's executive committee to bring many more union members into the fold. A source tells the SCRP that there may be 15 to 20 union members on the committee.

However, one of the members is not, and, apparently, will not be for the foreseeable future,  AFL-CIO Hall of Fame president Dan Sciury.

Years ago (2005), Sciury and Gonzalez had a falling out over Gonzalez (not then chairman) support of a then Republican candidate (Burger) for Jackson Township trustee over union member candidate Kathleen Kelly.

The relationship between Scuiry and Gonzalez was already frayed from his support of Steven Meeks over Kelly in 2003.  Though Meeks is a Democrat, he is a political confidant of Gonzalez.

Putting unionists on the executive committee is designed to heal a rift between Stark unions and the organized Stark County Democratic Party that was created by former Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. several years ago in replacing long time organized labor stalwart Billy Sherer, Sr. (a retired ironworker) as one of two party members of the Stark County Board of Elections.

Maier claimed that the then Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner more or less ordered the change in her promoting having an attorney on the board.  Brunner denied Maier's claim.

Under Gonzalez' leadership, Stark Dems are in danger of losing its one time ironclad control (under former Chairman Maier) of countywide (nonjudicial) offices.  At the end of Maier's tenure, Republicans held no nonjudicial county offices.

In 2010, Stark Republicans elected Alan Harold as the county auditor.

In October, 2011, Gonzalez was put into the unhappy position of prevailing upon the Dems central committee to appoint Republican Alex Zumbar Stark County treasurer in replacement of Democrat Gary Zeigler who resigned/retired in settlement of litigation between himself and the county.

Zumbar is standing for election this fall and The Report believes that he will be easily reelected.

This year the Republicans are contesting incumbent Democrats John Fererro (prosecutor), Rick Campbell (recorder), Nancy Reinbold (county clerk of courts) and P.S. Murthy (coroner).

Democrat Sheriff Tim Swanson is not seeking reelection.  His chief deputy Mike McDonald is running to replace him.  It appears to The Report that he is in a "toss-up" race against Republican Larry Dordea who lost to Swanson in 2008.

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