Thursday, June 25, 2015


UPDATE:  10:00 a.m.



Readers of this blog should refresh themselves by going back to The Stark County Political Report's blog of August 11, 2014 to familiarize yourselves with the underlying issues that will likely surface in the fight on whether or not Canton should proceed along lines to became a charter city and thereby control to a greater degree what it can and cannot do as a political subdivision of the State of Ohio.

Ward 8 councilman Edmond J. Mack, chairman of Canton City Council's judiciary committee, has been unable to persuade his fellow members to put the issue on the ballot and therefore has proceeded to collect enough signatures to bypass council and go direct to the voters come this November.

Back in August, 2014, this is how council voted:

While in 2014, seven (7) of Canton's twelve (12) councilpersons were negative on presenting the charter issue; it appears to the SCPR that the mix will be changed after the November election.

This morning yours truly had the good fortune to be in touch with Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio as he was present as one of the member of the Corrections Planning Commission which among other matters deals with jail use issues.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to get Director Martuccio's legal expertise on what the process is for Councilman Mack to get his initiative onto the ballot, here is a video of the interview done about 08:30 a.m. this morning:

It could be that at-large Councilman James Babcock (a charter "no" vote) could be defeated by the trio (three to be elected; four candidates) of incumbent Democrat William Smuckler, incumbent Richard Hart (an independent) and newcomer but clearly a powerful name in Canton municipal politics having been clerk of the Canton Municipal Court for many years; namely, Tom Harmon who is also a former Stark County commissioner.

Moreover, "no" voter Councilman Jim Griffin will definitely not be back as he decided not to run for re-election.

He will be replaced by charter government supporter Jason Scaglione as the SCPR figures Harmon to be.

Harmon's wife circulated a petition in support of getting the issue on the ballot and this is a strong political ally of stalwart charter government supporter Councilman Smuckler.

Accordingly, after November's election, The Report thinks there could be a reversal of the 7 to 5 "no," to 7 to 5 "yes" on the charter issue which if the issue gets a go ahead to form a 15 member charter commission in November of this year could bode well for ultimate passage of the issue come November, 2016.

The issue may still be tinged with a North/South Canton dividing line fight, but less so with the likelihood that seven of Canton's councilpersons will likely be on record as favoring charter government for The Hall of Fame City.

Councilman Mack is to be commended for his tireless work on behalf of getting the matter of forming a commission on the ballot in this fall's general election.

The SCPR has compiled a list of circulators (24, who circulated 62 petitions) and numbers of signatures obtained, to wit:

And here is a list of the prime movers in favor of charter government for Canton.

One of the key circulators was former Canton councilman Robert Capestrain.

Here he is speaking on behalf of the charter issue back in August.

Readers of this blog should also take a look at the SCPR blog concerning a debate between Mack and Ward 2 councilman Thomas West on the charter government issue on August 19, 2013.

And take a few minutes to listen to former Canton councilman Robert Capestrain promote the charter issue before the current council last August.

There could be another interesting twist to the charter government fight.

And that would be the dynamics of mayoralty candidates this November if current Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei makes it to the ballot as an "independent" candidate against two term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II.

The Report sees Bernabei to be much more enthusiastic for charter government than Healy.  Earlier this morning yours truly confirmed (at the above-reference Corrections Planning Commission meeting) with Commissioner Bernabei that he does indeed favor Mack's charter government issue.

However, Councilman Mack has been courting Healy to come out in favor of the issue.  

Mack, who is associated with Lee Plakas representing the Stark County Democratic Party and the Ohio Democratic Party in their effort to persuade the Stark Board of Elections not to certify Bernabei as an independent candidate, might thereby be working at cross-purposes to his desire to have the strongest possible mayoral support for his "bring charter government to Canton movement."

Politics and government in a very complex mix and makes for odd political combinations, interests and alignments including a possible renewal of the North/South Civil War within the confines of Canton, Ohio.

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