Thursday, May 7, 2015


UPDATED 10:00 A.M.


Election Night Reaction
Michelle Del Rio-Keller
Massillon Ward 6

There were only a few fireworks in council races among Stark County's major cities on Tuesday.

Many candidates for down ballot offices work just as hard if not harder than those who run for the glitzy positions (e.g mayor) and deserve to have their story told in detail.

In Stark County, their chapter and verse stories are only told by The Stark County Political Report.

There were a number of noteworthy pyrotechnic explosions in Massillon and to a much lesser extent in Canton.

November's general election could see a few more mushroom into the skies of both Canton and Massillon.

Added to the November's poltically sparkly skyscape however will be a few races from The Carnation City and The Dogwood City.

The most politically charged face-off on Tuesday occurred in Massillon's Ward 6.

Ever since the alleged politics experts of "all things Massillon politics" (i.e. former Stark County Dems chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Stark County Dems political director R. Shane Jackson) lost control of Massillon City Council to the Republicans having been bested by Ms. Massillon Republican; namely, Ward 2 Councilwoman Nancy Halter  in the Massillon council elections of 2011, the supposed Democratic political gurus Maier, Jr. and Jackson have probably have been breakfasting daily at Belden Village's Scrambler Marie's scrambling (what else?) to find ways to recover from their council election debacle of 2011.

For her part, retiring Councilwoman Halter tells the SCPR that she will - in retirement - go about reorganizing Massillon Republican community for a third time.

If it were up to Stark County GOP chairman Jeff Matthews (also director of the Stark County Board of Elections), the SCPR thinks that Massillon like Canton would be non-competitive as between Republicans and Democrats.

And the SCPR thinks that Halter practices partisan politics in a highly ethical/constructive way in obvious contrast to what yours truly thinks of the Maier, Jr./Jackson (elected Massillon clerk of courts/appointed chief deputy, respectively) way of doing politics.

It has to be a bitter pill for her to swallow that it is all but certain that Maier, Jr./Jackson political protege Dave Irwin (an employee of Stark County recorder Rick Campbell [a quintessential Maier, Jr. loyalist]) will become her successor in November's election.

While Maier, Jr and Jackson were consummately involved in an effort to bring down 24 year fellow-Democratic mayor Frank Cicchinelli (which they succeeded at), guess what happened to Masillon City Council?

It went Republican!

And Democrats should be laying that turn of events right at the feet of Maier, Jr. and Jackson.

Finally in 2015, it appears that they are having success.

It appears they will have two Maier, Jr/Jackson loyalists in office come January 1, 2016 BUT likely at the price of losing the mayoralty in that - if he can stay in the race as a political independent - the SCPR sees Cicchinelli handily defeating the Maier, Jr./Jackson directed incumbent mayor Catazaro-Perry in November.

Where is the council success to come from?

Ironworkers #550 union connected through her husband (a real irony when it comes to Maier, Jr) and Democrat Linda Litman seems to have eked out a seven vote victory over Councilperson-at-Large Michelle Del Rio-Keller in Ward 6.

Had Del Rio-Keller done the selfish political thing, she would have run for re-election at-large and left it to Republican Ed Lewis, IV to fend for himself in Ward 6.

By the SCPR's calculation, Lewis was going to lose in Ward 6 to Litman and lose big.  And everybody seem know it including Lewis himself.

The Report's take is that Del Rio-Keller and Lewis, though of opposite political parties are politically close and yours truly suspects she and he cooked up the "I'll run in Ward 6, you run at-large and we will both stay on council" arrangement.

Del Rio-Keller's family has lived in Ward 6 forever and so the thinking had to be that she could fend off the Maier Massillon Political Machine (MMPM) and thereby do her political friend a favor and Massillon as a whole would be better off.

And she knew that the MMPM would combine massive amounts of union money (despite Maier, Jr's historical "less than enthusiastic support" for unionism effect in politics) and campaign workers to defeat the politically formidable Del Rio-Keller.

It is impressive to the SCPR that the councilwoman-at-large almost pulled it off.  But it appears she will have come up just a tad short even if there are provisional ballots to be counted or and counting error or two.

But until the Stark County Board of Elections certifies Tuesday's election, we will not know for sure. And there could be a recount.

Assuming that Litman's election will stand, let's take a look at the numbers.

A startling thing that the numbers show is that Catazaro-Perry opponent in the Democrat primary J. David Ress did much better than the home grown Del Rio-Keller.

In yesterday's blog, the SCPR related a story being circulated by a highly credible Massillon elected official, to wit:
Another interesting tidbit that you will only hear from The Stark County Political Report is that Mayor Catazaro-Perry while campaigning in Ward 6 with another Maier, Jr. stand-in, that is to say Linda Litman (a narrowly [by seven votes] Ward 6 councilperson candidate) got the Massillon Police called on them because of their persistent engagement with a voter who clearly told them that the voter was a committed Litman's Democratic Party opponent and incumbent councilperson Michelle Del Rio-Keller who chose to not run at-large again but in her home ward.
This account shows in an anecdotal way how intense the MMPM and its chief elected official (Catazaro-Perry) was in getting Litman elected.

As it turned out, the mayor was not protecting her own election numbers in Ward 6 in her "all out for Litman" mode.

Reports are abounding that Litman spent upwards of $8,000 on this council race.  We will not know for sure until the candidates file their post-primary campaign finance reports.

Lastly, there was a barrage of campaign literature put out by the Ironworkers PAC sponsored Litman campaign one of which was is said to have been hand delivered on Sunday, May 3rd, and, of course, the election was Tuesday May 5th.

Del Rio-Keller says that there are false allegations in the letter and that she is looking at whether or not to file a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission.

To the SCPR, this account shows how political zeal gets way out of hand and thereby produces results which while satisfying to parochial political interest undermines the quality of local government.

How anyone can look at Linda Litman as a councilperson (assuming she maintains her lead) as anything other than take orders from headquarters - like her friend the mayor - is beyond the Report.

Del Rio-Keller has been a splendid councilperson and the SCPR trusts she will bide her time and make another run at being elected Ward 6 councilperson in 2017.

Here is a video of Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller's reaction to her narrow defeat on Tuesday evening.

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