Friday, May 4, 2012


Last year the Stark County commissioners had a series of meetings (20 plus [February through June]) with the citizenry of Stark's political subdivisions (villages, townships and cities).

The commissioners were seeking input from Stark citizens as to whether or not they would support a sales tax initiative, if so, how much of a tax and for how long.

Also, the commissioners wanted to hear from county residents the concerns about county government.  In Perry Township the commissioners ran into a buzz saw as they appeared in Perry on the heels of major flooding from storms which made their way through the township.

Attendance ranged from zero at the city of Canton meeting to probably upwards of 40 at Jackson Township.

The very first meeting last year was in Plain Township and was sparsely attended.

This year the commissioners are embarking on a new round of meetings.  The first was held in April 30th in Washington Township and the commissioners were pleased with the turnout.  Here is a video of Commissioners Bernabei and  Creighton speaking about their  Washington Township experience at Wednesday regular commissioner meeting.

What yours truly noticed about village, city and township officials during last years series of meetings is that they appeared to make very little if any effort to get citizens out to meet, greet and question commissioners.

In many instances, public officials themselves did not attend.

But such was not the case with Washington Township officials on the 30th.  Two of he trustees and the township fiscal officer was present as were about 23 other citizens.

Washington Township, which sits abreast of Alliance, has 4,626 citizens according to the 2010 census.   So 26 attendees on a Monday night was pretty impressive.  As noted by Commissioner Creighton in the video, Washington Township officials made a concerted effort to get a solid showing of the township's residents to the meeting.

The next meeting (May 14th) is to be held in Plain Township, which, as noted above had a very poor showing last year.

Plain has a population of 52,540 (2010 census) about 10 times that of Washington Township.  Proportionally then the Plain trustees and its unelected officials should be able to get 250 residents out to meet, greet and question the county commissioners.

Don't count on that!

If memory serves yours truly correctly, attendance in Plain in 2011 was in single digits.

Despite having a much larger population base, Plain officials would likely be thrilled to match Washington Township's 26.

Probably the same for North Canton (meeting set for May 28).  Though better than Plain last year, for a city of 17,488 (2010 census) North Canton's 2011 turnout was disappointing.

With their ascendancy to office, Commissioners Bernabei (November, 2010) and Creighton (January 1, 2011) brought a commitment to restore trust in county government in the wake of the troubles in the Stark County treasury which surfaced on April 1, 2009.

The commissioners are raising the level of transparency, accountability, accessibility and communication.

But they cannot do it alone.

Each and every public official in all the villages, cities and townships of Stark County need to be out beating the bushes to get their constituents to the commissioner meetings that take place in their communities.

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