Tuesday, December 10, 2013


One of the more interesting aspects of tomorrow night's anticipated fight between Lieutenant Lou Darrow and George Maier for the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC) appointment as sheriff is:
how much of a factor 
will the "big names" within Stark County Democratic Party politics 
be in the outcome.
As all Stark Countians who have any political awareness at all about Stark County politics; the Stark County Democrats are currently living out humorist Will Rogers long ago observation:  "I do not belong to any organized political party, I am a Democrat"

And as far as the Stark County Political Report can determine, the chief culprit in the Rogers' adage applying to the Stark County Democratic Party is SCDP chairman Randy Gonzalez.

The Report's assessment of Gonzalez's out-front-in-the-public leadership skills is that they are marginal at best.

Anytime there is a controversy among Democrats, Gonzalez seems to botch things up.

But he is the "hand-picked-man" of the real power among establishment Stark Democrats (namely; former chairman and current vice chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.), and, therefore, he remains as party chairman.

Gonzalez months and months ago ran into a buzz saw in Massillon when things turned ugly in a local precinct committee meeting that he was chairing.

And, even in his absence, he couldn't avoid controversy within the party.

Gonzalez was scheduled to emcee a Western Stark Democrats annual clambake in September this year. But he was on vacation.  However, the word was that his choice to introduce Democratic candidate Connie Pillich for Ohio treasurer was Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

Kathy Catazaro-Perry is the political protege and surrogate of aforementioned Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Well,  Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero ended up as emcee.  Ferrero is on the outs with Maier and in a political struggle to determine who dominates Massillon Democratic politics.  Ferrero is a long time law director of Massillon and a former Stark Democratic Party chairman himself.

Having command of the Western Dems event, Ferrero proceeded to snub Catazaro-Perry and introduced Pillich himself.  And, of course, Catazaro-Perry walked off in a huff.

Gonzalez also had a struggle in managing SCDP-CC meeting of October 31, 2011 wherein he had to preside over the meeting in which the Stark Dems had the unhappy task (for them as committed Democrats) of appointing Republican Alex Zumbar to succeed Democrat Gary D. Zeigler who had resigned/retired as county treasurer on October 19th.

And the SCDP-CC meeting of February 5, 2013 to chose Mike McDonald's successor as sheriff-elect November, 2012 was a turbulent session.

McDonald resigned days before he was scheduled to take office (January 7, 2013) due to what turned out to be a terminal illness.

The main competition at the February 5th meeting was between then-26 year sheriff's department sergeant and most recently lieutenant Lou Darrow (outgoing Sheriff Tim Swanson's choice to replace McDonald) and George T. Maier.

Maier whose main claim to law enforcement fame is his having been an Ohio state patrolman. However, he migrated to management with the Ohio Department of Public Safety where he served during the Democratic Strickland administration as number 2 in command (and, for about seven days at the end of the Strickland administration as the head guy).

The controversy at the February 5th meeting which the SCPR thinks Gonzalez poorly managed was whether or not Maier was qualified by Ohio statutory law to be sheriff given the gap as an administrator between his having been a Ohio patrolman and his application for the Stark Dems' appointment as sheriff as of the qualification date which was February 6th.

To the SCPR, it was all that Gonzalez could do to hold things together to get his man (and thereby the Stark County Democratic Party establishment's man) George T. Maier appointed in a very close 92 Maier to 84 Darrow vote.

Every seasoned Stark County political observer that The Report has talked with expresses astonishment that the politically unknown Darrow could be within 8 votes of the establishment's man.

Which, the SCPR thinks, goes to the heart of the issue and the lack of satisfaction among many rank-and-file Democrats with the Gonzalez/Maer (Johnnie A. Jr) leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party.

As we all know now, it turns out that the Gonzalez led February 5th meeting resulted in the Ohio Supreme Court saying on November 6th (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto, filed Feburary 12, 2013) that Maier was unqualified as of the February 5th meeting and that the Stark Dems had to "re-do" the appointment.

So tomorrow is the date for the "re-do."

But the controversy re:  Gonzalez's management of things continues.

He has come out once again in his role as chairman as an unabashed George T. Maier man.

And that troubles many Stark Dems; especially, of course, the Darrow supporters.

So do not be surprised if there are challenges to Gonzalez presiding over tomorrow's meeting.

Moreover, the SCPR believes that there are likely to be other challenges to procedures implemented in the conduct of the meeting.

Of course, all of that can be avoided if the Ohio Supreme Court would come down today or before 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (the time of the scheduled meeting) with an order as requested by Greg Beck (attorney for Swanson and Darrow in Swanson/Darrow v. Gonzalez et al, mandamus, filed November 18, 2013) where he has the justices to declare that Maier cannot be a candidate because of this as of February 5th disqualification.

But if the vote goes on and the Stark Dems select Maier once again (which the SCPR thinks is likely),  Gonzalez and this leadership cohort will probably be subjecting the county to another quo warranto contest in the Ohio Supreme Court.

However, the necessity of another quo warranto may not arise.

There are those who think Lou Darrow can win tomorrow night.

How's that?

They think that there may be enough precinct committee persons who, while they like the job that Maier did while he occupied 4500 Atlantic Boulevard and may have voted for him on February 5th, think it is time to move on and appoint Darrow to avoid another time of uncertainty with the Stark County's sheriff department.

They point out that Maier will clearly have his qualification problems behind him by the time of the May 6, 2014 primary election (inasmuch that process in and of itself will reset the qualification date beyond the February 6th date) and that he will be the "odds on favorite" to defeat an even "sitting as sheriff" Lou Darrow.

If Darrow is to "upset" Maier, then the SCPR thinks it will take a tilt by certain key Stark County political subdivision (boards of education, villages, cities, townships and countywide) elected officials (and leadership public figures) - who are also precinct committee persons - towards Darrow.

Not because they think he is the better candidate for sheriff.  But because they do not want the Stark County Democratic Party await yet another Ohio Supreme Court decision as to whether or not Stark County has a statutorily qualified sheriff.

Who are the "key" officials?

First off, Canton mayor William J. Healy, II.

Healy voted for Maier in February.  And, of course, his vote, one would think, influenced those who look for him for political guidance.

But - the SCPR has learned - Healy will not be able to attend tomorrow night's meeting because of a prior commitment.

The question becomes will Healy be one of those leaders "who steps off to the plate" and says "you know what, we have to get this sheriff thing behind us for now?"

Beyond Healy, there are lots of possibilities.

Here is the list of how the SCDP-CC voted in February with "yellow" highlights applied to those officials who could turn things Darrow's way in the name of county stability and party harmony (in the short run).

The only question is are there enough of "difference makers" between the two camps to get Stark County - once again - on the path of political/governance stability insofar as countywide law enforcement is concerned?

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