Wednesday, March 16, 2016


As The Stark County Political Report wrote Monday (LINK), the results of yesterday's primary election that should matter the most to Stark Countians are those pictured above.


The stunner among those results was Katherine Baylock out polling former Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson.  Baylock is a political neophyte who heads a local non-profit organization.  All evening, yours truly waited for Ferguson to leave her in a cloud of dust but it never happened.

Baylock defeating Ferguson likely put to an end Ferguson's aspiration to return to public life.

Next ranking among the surprises in this race was how well term-limited-out Stephen Slesnick ran.

Though The Report thinks Slesnick has been a very poor quality state representative, it is obvious in his 2,867 vote margin over second place finisher Baylock, Stark County Democrats think he as promise as a county commissioner.

Canton Ward 5 councilman Kevin Fisher worked the hardest of all the candidates but went unrewarded at the polls yesterday.

Fisher has repeatedly told the SCPR that he is not a career politician.

Coming in last might well be a convincer to him that the end of his current term (elected to a new two year term on November 15, 2015) might be a time for him to step aside.


The Republican side of the quest to fill the vacancy left Tom Bernabei when he left the commissioners office to become the "independent" mayor of Canton his having defeated two-term incumbent Democrat mayor William J. Healy, II back in November had no surprises.

Canton Township trustee Bill Smith (14 years) who has the full backing of sitting Republican commissioner Janet Creighton had an easy time of it all night against Alliance orthopedic surgeon and political novice Dave Mungo.


The outcome could hinge on who is the Republican presidential standard bearer come November.

If its John Kasich, Smith will win in walk.

If its Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, Slesnick has a chance.

Bill Smith has accomplished far more as a township trustee (Canton Township) for 14 years both at the township level and working for the township's interests with neighboring Canton and in collaboration with Stark County departments of government.

However, that me go for naught in a Republican Party led by Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Smith, who is a Kasich supporter, has to be holding his breath on the outcome of the Republican presidential sweepstakes.


A week or so ago, The Report had a conversation with Ward 2 Canton councilman Thomas West about his take on his face off with Joyce Healy-Abrams (sister of former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II).

West did not have a clue.

Nor did the SCPR.

But he had to be more than a tad nervous.

Brother William J. had put $10,000 of Team Healy money into sister Joyce's campaign.

Way beyond the financial resources of West.

He had less than $2,000 to spend on his campaign unless, of course, he raised much more money in several weeks between the CFR reporting date cut off date in late February through election day.  The Report doubts that his post-primary will reveal such.

This seat (and various earlier configurations of it) had been a sort of right of the Healy family.  William J. Healy, II (in the early 2000s) and his and Joyce's father William J. (the 1970s through the 1990s) had held this seat.

That factor plus the "apparent" campaign finance disparity make the West victory impressive notwithstanding the narrow margin of the win.


This seat is what the political pros described as being highly indexed Democratic.

What the Ohio General Assembly Republicans did in the periodic reapportionment (required at least once every 10 years) was to pack Democrat registered voters into urban area pretty much guaranteeing that Democrats would win legislative seats in Ohio's urban centers (e.g. Canton is Ohio's 8th largest city) whereas the converse is true in suburban and rural areas of Ohio which of course dominated by Republicans which as a consequence has a supermajority veto proof advantage in both the Ohio House and Senate.

Accordingly, for years and years now, the 49th and its predecessor configurations (which by the way now includes Democratic Massillon) has been an automatic for Democrats.

Tom West is likely making plans to commute between Canton and Columbus, no?


But in the SCPR's view, he will have to work harder than any Democrat of recent times to hold the 49th for the Democrats.


Because his opponent is one Dan McMasters.

McMasters is a highly experience businessman who has worked years and years on civic projects with highly influential Democrats and Republicans.

For instance, he worked with the commissioners (then-Democrat Tom Bernabei, Democrat Pete Ferguson and Republican Janet Creighton) to get the critically needed 1/2 cent sales tax passed in November, 2009.

And there are other examples.

The Report would not be surprised in the slightest if McMasters were to pull the political upset (on the basis of the district having significantly more Democrats than Republican voters).

But like in the Smith/Slesnick race, whomever gets the Republican nomination for president could be determinative of who wins the 49th.


The citizens of Massillon are in for tough times.

Re-elected with 40% of the vote (which her key political mentor Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. termed as being an "ass-kicking), Kathy Catazaro-Perry has made a mess of Massillon finances.

The city has not passed an income tax increase for the general fund since 1977.

When she was first elected in 2011, she lobbied hard for the State of Ohio to place Massillon in fiscal emergency.

It took about a year and one-half of arm twisting, but in 2013 she persuaded Ohio fiscal authorities to do just that but on the slimmest of grounds (i.e. a cash flow problem).

The she proceeded to dilly-dally around with Massillon City Council in agreeing on a way to put Massillon's fiscal house on a more sold footing.

Until yesterday's levy effort, she was half hearted in support and at least once instance totally non-supportive.

The Report thinks this woman is in way over her head as mayor of Massillon and therefore going forward Massillon has a bleak future.


You talk about shock.

Back in the November, 2015 general election it was more or less taken for granted that the Canton Parks Issue would pass.

A merger has been worked out between the Canton Park Commission and the Canton Joint Recreation District and the November levy effort was to be the cement with which the new unit was to be bound together.

But it did not happen.

Over a 1,000 vote loss.

Mayor Bernabei had to be relieved last night as the "smashing victory" unfolding.

While Bernabei did not run the campaign himself, you can bet that he saw to it that he got people in place (Sam Sliman, J.R. Rinaldi, Mike Hanke, to name a few) who could see to it that an effective campaign was run.

Had the levy not passed, who knows what would be in the offing for the Canton Parks System.

With Canton making gigantic cuts ($5.1MM worth), there was going to very little if any general fund money for the parks.

Whomever ran the November, 2015 effort has to be under great scrutiny going forward, one would think.

Mayor Bernabei is not one to trifle with the unproductive!


The SCPR has two comments on this outcome.

First, Republican Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton and Republican Stark County auditor have to be flying higher than kites today.  They are the local architects working with the Kasich campaign professionals in orchestration the impressive Kasich Stark County victory.

And what a turnout for the GOP.

Nearly 70,000 voters compared to the Dems 38,000 or so.

Second, Stark County Republican candidates better hope that Kasich is not on a pipe dream in saying last night on national media that he is going to be the Republican nominee for president.

As the SCPR sees it, for Stark County based down ticket candidates to be successful in November, John Kasich will have to be the GOP's nominee.

No comments: