Friday, August 23, 2013


Earlier this week the Stark County Political Report learned that Theresa Mattox had announced that she was withdrawing as the Republican candidate in Ward 5 of Massillon City Council.

This development falls on the heels of Democrat Quinessa Hampton having first withdrawn as a candidate for election to the Ward 4 seat she was appointed to in February and recently resigning from council as a consequence of her having (at least from the military's perspective) conflict in being a member of the military and holding a partisan labeled political office.

The fact of Maddox's withdrawal was published yesterday on the Stark County Board of Elections website.

Of course, the pre-eminent question is what effect, if any, will Mattox's withdrawal have on the final numbers from the upcoming November election in terms of who controls council as between the Republicans and Democrats.

The answer?  No effect in and of itself because, as explained below, any hope that the Republicans could retain this ward was for Donnie Peters, Jr. to have sought reelection.

Because Mattox withdrew so late in the election cycle for the reason of her family's planned move out of Massillon into Perry Township, the SCPR is told that the Republicans are not likely to name a replacement candidate to oppose Democrat Megan Starrett who is politically aligned with Stark County prosecutor, Massillon resident and former Massillon prosecutor John D. Ferrero, Jr.

The Report's source says that Mattox will very likely still be a resident of Massillon's fifth ward through election day, but the thinking among Massllon's Republican leadership (and, obvious, that of Mattox herself) is that "the right thing" to do was for her to withdraw.

As indicated above, the SCPR does not think that Mattox was going to win in Ward 5 had she remained a candidate.

It appears that she and the Party's leadership made the same calculation.  So in doing the "high-minded" thing, the Republicans salvage the good will of Massillon voters out of what had to be for the Massillon GOP a disappointment in squaring up with the realization that the Party was not going to be able to hold onto the seat currently held by Party maverick Donnie Peters, Jr.

The real loss for the Republicans occurred when Peters decided not to seek reelection.

Moreover, the SCPR thinks that a major reason he decided against running for another term is that he saw "the handwriting on the wall" in going up against John Ferrero's choice.

Nonetheless, the Ward 5 loss does make the chances of the Republicans holding onto majority status a bit dicey.

For them to do so, they will have to retain Ward 1 (Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly), Ward 2 (Nancy Halter), unseat the Democrats in Ward 4 (Jim Triner), retain Ward 6 (Ed Lewis, IV) coupled with Milan Chovan's sure win (only three candidates running for three seats) in his at-large race.

The real trouble spots for Republican chances are in Ward 1 and Ward 4.

Ward 1 because of the name recognition of Mike Loudiana (a Cicchinelli administration service director and a former councilman).

Ward 4 because this ward is the very most Democratic ward in all the city.

However, The Report is told that in the latest redistricting some Democratic areas were shaved off the ward and placed in Wards 2 and 3 and therefore the GOP thinks that it can win a very narrow election margin win in the ward when one factors in that The Legends part of the ward is predominantly Republican.

But the Republicans are not getting a free ride in Wards 2 and 6.

As reported earlier this week by the SCPR, the Johnnie Maier, Jr. faction of the Massillon Democratic Party are targeting Halter and Lewis in the 2nd and the 6th.

The Report thinks that Halter and Lewis are the strength of council's Republican caucus.  A Maier, Jr success against either or both could severely disrupt the Republican resurgence realized in the 2011 election. They surprised everybody in taking a 5 to 4 majority in council.  Overall, Massillon is a very Democratic city.

The Report is told that Cunningham-Hedderly, Halter and Lewis are running in concert based on some legislative successes they had (as a grouping) during the 2012-2013 Massillon City Council.

One of this Republican-grouping-touted successes is one on which Lewis ran when he unseated Democratic incumbent David McCune in the 2011 election; namely, getting Massillon out of the solid waste collection business.

He made good on his promise on October 15, 2012 when council voted unanimously (with a little foot dragging from Democratic councilmen Slagle and Manson) to get the city out of garbage collection.

Because of the trio-Republicans' leadership (but spearheaded by Lewis), The Report is told, Masillonians (individual citizens/families) will be saving $2 million collectively on their solid waste disposal bill over the five year lifespan of the contract.

Moreover, the private hauler (Kimble) purchased Massillon's equipment for $214,000.

The Kimble deal affects some 4,600 Massillonians.

The Report hears that the Republicans are claiming that they have benefited even more Massillon citizens to the advantage of their pocketbooks because Republic Waste Services which also has customers in Massillon has decided to price match Kimble.

A second premise of the Cunningham-Hedderly, Halter and Lewis campaign is their successful stand against allowing Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. protege and Democratic mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry from raising revenue for the cash-strapped Massillon city government by tinkering with the credit that Massillon residents get for income taxes paid in the villages/cities where they work.

The point of the opposition is that the voters of Massillon would not be heard on the matter if the mayor had her way. The tax increase would have amounted to council "imposing" the increase on Massillon residents working out of town.

Even if the Republicans do not maintain their majority on council, they are likely to maintain a plurality.

The SCPR figures that the GOP will be successful in at least four of the council races; not counting the council presidency contest, which yours truly thinks former Massillon City Schools superintendent Al Hennon will win handlily.

The Cicchinelli wing of the Massillon Democratic Party may win in Ward 1 with Mike Loudiana.  If he does win, he likely has an ally (as in being close to Cicchinelli) in at-large Democratic councilman Paul Manson.

The Report does not see Ward 3 councilwoman and Democrat Andrea Scassa and sure-to-be-elected Democrat council-at-large candidate Michelle Del Reo-Keller being consistently aligned with neither the Cicchinelli group, the Republicans, the Catazaro-Perry (of the Maier Democratic faction) nor the Ferrero wing (sure-to-be-elected Megan Starrett).

Assuming the Republicans do not maintain a majority, the breakdown will likely be:
  • Four Republicans (Halter, Lewis, Triner and Chovan),
  • Two non-committeds (Scassa and Del Rio Keller), 
  • Two, more or less, aligned with the Cicchinelli camp (Loudiana and Manson),
  • One (Starrett) with the John D. Ferrero, Jr Massillon political interests
Even though the Maier, Jr. camp is pursuing three seats (Ward 4 [Stinson - the Democratic appointee to succeed Hampton]), Ward 2 [Irwin] and Ward 6 [Litman]), it seems likely that Maier et al will come up empty.

But we shall see.

Unless the Republicans pull off what appears to be another political miracle a la 2011, there will be a shake up in the make up of and leadership of  Massillon City Council but not because Theresa Mattox has withdrawn her candidacy.

Nevertheless, as during the current term, the project make of council indicates that the councilpersons will have a positive "let's work together" relationship.

But that could all change if the Maier, Jr. faction prevails in Wards 2, 4 and 6.

And that could happen.

If it does, the SCPR thinks you can forget the relative harmony that currently exists among Massillon council members.

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