Monday, April 16, 2012


UPDATE:  04/16/12 AT NOON

What follows is an e-mail response to today's blog.  It was written by David J. Ramos who was one of 18 applicants for the recently filled township trustee position vacated by Anna Capaldi early this year.

It is a policy of the SCRP to allow subjects of blogs an opportunity to respond to blogs.

The Ramos response:
Dear Mr. Olson,

My name is David Ramos and I currently serve as the Secretary of the Perry Township Zoning Commission and I was one of the 18 candidates who "wanted to be appointed to political office" as your blog from today's Stark County Political Reports suggests.  After reading your article today (I have been a daily reader ever since I discovered my name on your blog several months ago) I wanted to offer a different viewpoint to what you are suggesting.

I cannot speak to the motivation behind others who chose to throw their hat into the process but I wanted you to know what my motivation was.  I have served Perry Township for over 8 years working with the Zoning Commission.  I have attended every zoning meeting during the time I've served on the Commission.  Additionally, I have assisted both the Perry Township Fire Department and the Perry Township Police Department in Spanish language translation at times when patients or suspects who couldn't speak English needed assistance.  I have attended seminars, I've volunteered for citizen's committees, and have been active in the political process with the township trustees on issues that I feel very passionate about.  My wife served almost 10 years as a EMT/Firefighter for the township.  I'm certainly more than just a little interested in my community!!

With all that being said, I agree that taking that step to actually run takes an exceptional level of commitment.  But keep this in mind.  To many "average citizens", the thought of fighting city hall can be overwhelming.  In the case of Perry Township, trying to unseat Craig Chessler and Lee Laubacher is no easy task.  To an aspiring public servant like myself, strategically speaking, going head-to-head with one of those two vs. the opportunity to go head-to-head with 17 other non-office holders seemed like a no brainer.  The incumbent will always have the advantage.  Had I been selected (like Mr. Haines) I think there is a certain advantage I would have had come election time.  Specifically to Perry, the 2013 election will offer two seats instead of just one.  Again, strategically speaking, the chances of gaining enough votes to be one of the two is better than going face to face with a political veteran (as was the case in 2011).

All things being equal, all of us aspiring politicians would certainly love any advantage we could get in running and winning an election.  To suggest that our only motivation was some kind of free ride seems a little over reaching.  Keep in mind that of the 18 candidates for the Perry job, 8 of them had previously run for public office.  If anything, I think it speaks volumes that so many people care enough to take the time to become part of the political process.  Many of the other 18 are regular township meeting goers and/or have been involved in the township in some capacity (firefighter, road department, school board, etc.).

I look forward to 2013.  I can't say today if I will be running or not.  In my experience, life has a way of deciding things like this for you.  If the time is right, like it was in January, I will actively engage myself in the election process.  If not, I will continue to serve my community in the way I have for the last eight years.


David J. Ramos


There are many who aspire to hold political office, but few are up to running for office - at least on the initial try.

Recently, the Jackson Trustees (Walters and Pizzino) selected a replacement for William Burger (retired) as Jackson Township trustee.

In November, 2013 the selectee Todd Hawke will have to run for retention (not re-election) as trustee.  It will be interesting to see whether or not he has the stomach for running for public office.  For it is one thing to be appointed to office.  It is quite another to have to run for office.

Among the things one must do in order to run for office include:
  • "successfully" (some can't even pass this step) circulate nominating petitions (usually 50 valid signatures required),
  • file a financial disclosure report with the Ohio Ethics Commission,
  • form a campaign committee as a condition precedent to soliciting campaign funds from the general public,
  • find volunteers to help staff the activities of a campaign,
  • ask people for money to finance the campaign,
  • file periodic campaign finance reports on dates prescribed by the Ohio secretary of state,
  • ask voters for their vote (door-to-door, radio, TV, candidate forums et cetera),
  • answer questions of the voters and of the press,
  • face the possible humiliation of losing.
There is a mythology in American to the effect that "all I want is a fair chance."

Undoubtedly, some of us actually subscribe to and act on the platitude.

But SCPR does not believe such is, in reality, a majority attitude.   The Report thinks the evidence is that most folks want a leg up and thereby wants to be "more than equal" when it comes to competition; political or otherwise.

One has to go no further than your local political subdivision to see the phenomenon in action.

Witness the Jackson situation:  40 applicants for one position.  Wow!

And if one combs through that list with a fine toothed comb, will any of the 40 have run for political office before?  Perhaps a few, very, very few.

The same can be said of the 18 who applied to replace Anna Calpaldi in Perry Township back about the beginning of the year.

An interesting study along these lines is the situation of September, 2010 when Stark's major political parties had to selected nominees to run in November to replace Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer as he had been removed ([August 23, 2010], illegally - so said the Ohio Supreme Court later) from office by the Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks).

Eleven Democrats and six Republicans filed for their respective party's nomination.  Same deal.  Few of the applicants had ever run for office.

Ken Koher emerged as the Democrats' nominee whereas Alex Zumbar came out the Republican pack notwithstanding the spellbinding Phil Davison (Minerva councilman) pitch to be name the nominee.

An on and on and on go the the long lists of applicants who endeavor to be appointed a public official whenever a vacancy opens up for an office that is an elective office except to fill a vacancy caused by death, retirement or any other reason.

Turning back to the county treasurer situation.

After the September, 2010 Republican nominee Alex Zumbar (who, by the way, had held elective office in Alliance) to replace Zeigler one election in November of that year, he was turned out of office by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Zeigler eventually negotiated his resignation/retirement (October 19, 2011) and it was game on again to find a replacement for him.

The commissioners (Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson) named Zumbar (the Republican) on an interim basis with Democrats Bernabei and Ferguson recommending to the Stark County Democratic Central Committee that Zumber be made the Democratic nominee inasmuch as the Democrats had the right to name Zeigler's (a Democrat himself) replacement to fill out his term.

Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez says he sought someone - anybody- to take the Democratic Party appointment, but none were to be found.


Interesting:  a free pass, a free ride into political office and no takers?

Why not?

As it turns out for a very good reason.

Alex Zumbar had announced that whether or not he got the Democratic nod, he would be running in 2012.

Zumbar, in the short time he served as treasurer, had distinguished himself and unless he did some horrible, horrible thing he would be a shoe-in to be elected this November.

So if a Democrat were to step forward and accept a nomination, he/she would have a virtually non-existence chance to be elected this fall.

It is sort of  politically weird that the Democrats do have a person who successfully circulated petitions for the right to run against Zumbar come November.

Now answer this for me.

If you are Kelly Zachary and if you have any notion whatsoever that you are going to be running for treasurer in 2012 (petitions had to be filed by December 7, 2011 - the Democratic nomination event was October 31st), why wouldn't you have stepped forward on October 31st and accepted the nomination which - according to Gonzalez - was there for the taking?

If Zachary was to have any chance this fall, she would have been in office for a full year to establish herself as a viable candidate for Stark County treasurer.

Apparently, just a case of fumbling, bumbling Democrats who are on a dive from holding all of Stark County's non-judicial countywide elective offices to holding precious few under the leadership of Randy Gonzalez.

Obviously, those who applied for the recent vacancies (Jackson, Perry and the Stark County treasury) are politically inclined.  But for most, only to a point.

Given a "free lunch," a "free pass," or "something for nothing," (i.e. an appointment) they are game to enter the political fray.

Otherwise:  thanks, but no thanks!

Is this anyway to run a democratic republic?

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