Thursday, December 3, 2015



At yesterday's regular weekly Stark County commissioners meeting, The Stark County Political Report asked sitting commissioner and Canton mayor-elect Thomas M. Bernabei whether or not he was prepared to announce when he would be stepping down as commissioner.

He could have stepped down on November 24th, the date that the Stark County Board of Elections certified him as the winner in his face off as a political independent versus incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II who was on November 3rd seeking a third term.

At the end of the meeting, Bernabei confirmed that he anticipates stepping down as commissioner within days in not the day before be sworn-in as mayor of Canton.

However, there was some light-hearted banter about the possibility that he would choose to stay on as a commissioner.

The hot political topic as Bernabei prepares to make his move is who will appoint his successor.

Phil Giavasis, chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party, has been reported as saying that the Dems will be moving to appoint Bernabei's successor on the basis of his having been a registered Democrat on being elected as commissioner in November, 2010 and subsequently in November, 2012.

The SCPR disagrees with the chairman as to the Dems' authority to appoint Bernabei's successor.

From a July 16, 2015 blog (LINK):

Bernabei having declared on May 4, 2015 as switching from being a Democrat to being an "independent" and subsequently found by the Ohio Supreme Court of have successfully done so and according to dicta in that opinion (as interpreted by yours truly) that consequently the commissioners plus county prosecutor route ("the commissioners") is the vehicle by which Bernabei will be replaced, the SCPR is convinced that "the commissioners" have the authority to appoint.

But there is a catch.

Who is going to contest the Dems' on appointing Bernabei's successor?

Will remaining commissioners Creighton and Regula (both Republicans)?

Will Prosecutor John Ferrero?

One other possibility might be Stark County civic activist and local attorney Craig T. Conley.

The Report contacted Conley yesterday and asked whether or not he had any interest in getting involved in a contest as to whom appointed Bernabei's successor.

He said that he was not.

However, he did add that if the commissioners contacted him with a request that he consider representing them on the issue, he said that he would consider doing so.

And the Dems' being challenged, is, of course, the key definitively knowing as a matter of law who has the legal authority to make the appointment.

Given the history of Stark County government and political interests invoking the intervention of the Ohio Supreme Court to settle local disputes (e.g. Zeigler, Maier, Cicchinelli and Bernabei), it is hard to see that the Dems' will have have a clear path to having one of their own succeed Thomas M. Bernabei as Stark County commissioner.

Stay tuned Stark Countians, matters political are once again about to overtake Stark County government!

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