Wednesday, May 1, 2013



Bill Smuckler (a long time former councilman who is running for councilman-at-large unopposed this election cycle) in a telephone conversation today tells the SCPR that Greg Hawk is in fact walking the neighborhood visiting with constituents.

Smuckler says he knows because he recently participated in a neighborhood walk with Hawk which lasted a couple of hours.


The SCPR has been hearing a  "buzz" flowing through political-junkie-land of late that the race to watch in Canton is not so much the Cole/Morris match up in Ward 9 but rather the Hawk/Porter face-off in Ward 1 located in Canton's near west/center side.

The word is that incumbent Councilman Greg Hawk (D - Ward 1, LINK to Facebook page for Ward 1) has grown complaisant and is perhaps shrugging this race off as just another in a series of efforts by Democratic Canton Mayor William J. Healy to unseat him.

For the most part Hawk has had no problem whatsoever in meeting the Healy challenge in the Democratic primaries of 2009 and 2011.

Hawk was first elected in November, 2001 and has been a fixture in Canton City Council ever since which as of December 31st will be 12 years.

Of course that was in the days that Harper was a Republican.

The SCPR is being told his Democratic opponent Tim Porter (LINK to Facebook page) that Hawk is not doing door-to-door but rather is sending a former Obama worker out to knock on doors on his behalf.  Porter also says that Hawk does show up for community events but stands off to himself and doesn't mix with Ward 1 constituents.

Porter says that he has been going door-to-door at a feverish pace and thinks he has a very good chance of knocking Hawk off.

Both are members of the Summit United Neighborhood Association but Porter (who is an official in the organization) claims that Hawk is not all that involved.

Hawk's resume indicates his involvement as being:
  • Administrative Representative to Summit Neighborhood Housing Coalition,
  • Member, Summit United Neighborhood Enrichment Team
If Porter is correct on his political assessments of Hawk, then the SCPR can see that the recipe is in place for a pretty stunning political upset in city of Canton politics.

You can factor William J. Healy - the second - in as being a primary sponsor of the Porter effort.  Porter winning equals his ridding himself of nemesis Hawk (especially the case when Hawk was finance committee chairman) from the Canton political scene.

Hawk feels that Healy was instrumental (through David Dougherty) in his being removed as finance committee chair when the 2012 - 2013 council organized.

And, if Porter pulls off an upset, you can bet that Healy will bill himself as the political Wizard of Oz who made it possible and will often and repeatedly remind Porter in one way or another that BUT FOR William J. Healy II, Tim Porter would not be on Canton City Council.

A consummately manipulative politician is who the mayor is.

Porter says he is a political novice but that he is getting helpful advice from Stark County Democratic chairman Randy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez (of Jackson Township [fiscal officer]) seems to be significantly involved in the Canton council races.  He is on record of having contributed to the Frank Morris campaign in Ward 9.

To the SCPR, the shifting and variant political alliances in Canton politics is intriguing.  In this regard, Porter says he is supporting Joe Cole in Ward 9.

He sees Frank Morris (D - Ward 9), Edmund Mack (D - Ward 8), John Mariol (D - Ward 7) and Kevin Fisher (D - Ward 5), a group that the SCPR has tabbed as being "the four young turks" of city council, as opposing  much of the agenda developed by the Healy administration in concert with Majority Leader David Dougherty (D - Ward 6) and Councilman Tom West (D - Ward 2).  They do so, he says, merely for the sake of opposition and creating political mayhem and thereby get in the way of Canton making progress in solving its many, many problems.

Porter cites Dougherty and Jimmy Babcock (D, at-large) as the councilpersons he respects most.

Just looking at the Porter/Hawk campaign finance reports gives credence to the notion that should Porter be elected, given human nature being what it is, he going to remember that Councilmen Mariol ($600) and Mack ($140) supported Hawk while Mayor Healy supported him.

Porter denies that such will be the case. He says that he is for what's in the best interest of people of Canton and Ward 1 and that such will be the standard he invokes in determining how to vote as issues come before council.

The SCPR passed several issues by him in our discussion yesterday and The Report's take is that he agrees with very little that
  • "the four young turks," 
  • Mary Cirelli (who is leaving council), 
  • and Greg Hawk
have stood together on in seeming opposition to Healy administration proposals on key issues.

Porter singled out Cirelli and Hawk as targeting Councilman Thomas West (D - Ward 2) with "no" votes for any of his legislative proposals.

And that opposition remains very much in tact as the 2013 council races come to a conclusion.

As late as this past Monday night's council meeting, the administration was forced to put off a vote on the third reading of $1 million dollar or so tax abatement for a planned Canton sited hotel because it appears that a majority (likely 7 to 6 with President Schulman breaking a tie) are not satisfied that the developers of the hotel will be hiring union workers to do the construction work.

While the SCPR does not see a Porter victory in Ward 1 as bringing Healy the majority on council that he undoubtedly quests for; it would likely bring him a 6 to 6 tie (assuming Morris holds on in the 9th).

The SCPR thinks Porter will line up more with Healy loyalists Babcock, Dougherty, Griffin, Smith, and West than he is to vote without awareness that there are two distinct camps on council.

For Healy to get his "on key issues majority," Cole would have to take Morris out in the 9th inasmuch as certain to be new class of 2014 members council-at-large candidates Bill Smuckler and Roland Burns will likely line up with the "four young turks."

All of which, of course, retains Council President Allen Schulman in an all too familiar role in terms of being the "break the tie" man on council.

Porter has a lot of regard for Schulman as does, seemingly, both of the political continental divide-esque blocs of council.

From a Canton public interest standpoint, it might be a good thing that the mayor does not get a majority.  The SCPR sees Healy as a whimsical type who flits from idea to idea with little thought for how this or that policy/program fits into an well-thought out overall plan that will bring Canton out of its financial/economic doldrums.

For a different mayor who has a more wholesome, integrated policy and practice outlook (let's say a Warren Price); one would want a council working more closely and coordinatedly with the administration.

But William J. Healy, II is the mayor of Canton and political power is the name of the game with him.  Accordingly, he does need to be "check[ed] and balance]d."

And though Canton council has all Democratic councilpersons, the Will Rogers quote:  "I belong to no organized political party, I'm a Democrat" is in full play in Canton politics.

Between Ward 1 and Ward 9, the 2013 election is a battle for control of Canton City Council not between Democrats and Republicans but between political Democratic blood brothers and sisters.

With Joe Cole antagonizing the Vassar Park folks (see yesterday's blog - LINK), it is hard to see him being victorious in Ward 9.   In a telling synopsis by former Councilman Brian Horner  (a Cole supporter) in a SCPR chit-chat with him yesterday, he impliedly conceded that Cole is likely to lose next Tuesday in saying that "it will be closer than folks think."

Up until recently the Ward 1 race has been flying under the political radar.

But no more.

The Stark County Political Report has a feeling that this race has all the makings of going down in the annals of Canton as being one of the most stunning of political upsets in all of Canton politics.

Probably less than 500 Ward 1 voters could determine the course of Canton government and politics over the next two years.

And the ramifications go beyond just Canton.

For the Hall of Fame city is Stark County's seat of government and SCPR believes that to a very large degree "how goes Canton - so goes Stark County."

While the contending parties debate/decide:
  • how to get more police on the streets of Canton,
  • whether or not to fund $175,000 to the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce,
  • the matter of having traffic cameras at key downtown Canton intersections,
  • how much and how quick the city will demolish neighborhood eyesores,
  • who gets tax abatements and for how much,
  • what to do with its parks and recreation infrastructure, and, indeed
  • what the rules of council itself will be going forward,
the real contest in the 2013 election is which of the contending groups will control the "balance of power" on Canton City Council.

It could swing 7 to 5 either way.

However, the SCPR thinks it could well end up as a mirror image of the 6 to 6 stand-off that currently plagues council.

Whatever unfolds next Tuesday, it is looking more and more like the Ward 1 contest could end up being the 2013 election headliner.

Challenger Tim Porter defeats incumbent Greg Hawk in Ward 1 stunner?

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