Monday, June 12, 2017




For quite a few years now, Ohio"organized" Democrats have been thunderstruck, stormed upon and flooded with an avalanche of Republican control of much of—in not most of—Ohio government.

In the local context,  increasingly, Republicans are inching towards achieving domination of  Stark Countywide government.

When I started The Stark County Political Report (March, 2008), Democrats controlled all of Stark County's "non-judicial" countywide "non-judicial" government.

Democratic Party dominance in Stark County (countywide offices) was achieved under the chairmanship of former state Representative Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Successor chairmen Randy Gonzalez (currently Jackson Township fiscal officer) and Phil Giavasis (the current chairman and the Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts) have presided over recent years' loses (the county treasurer, the county auditor and control of the county commissioners) on the part of Democrats.

Moreover, the Dems barely hung onto the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's office in recent elections.

So it would be quite a blow to "organized" local Democrats to have to abide political domination from the Statehouse to the County Seat (as a representation of "countywide") should Republicans come to dominate Stark's countywide elective offices.

Republicans narrowly lost the local prosecutors race in 2016 and a close election for county sheriff in 2014.

To sum it all up, it is not a promising political environment for elected/elective-aspiring Democrats these days in Ohio and except for Canton city government, in most of Stark County.

In these days, one of the most used phrases in political analysis is the expression:  political base.

The phrase get heavy use by political pundits who pretty much assess that the only subset of Americans who support the presidency of Donald J. Trump is his core political base (at worst about 34% of voters; at best 46%) which some are beginning to say is itself eroding.

In Stark County, the "organized" Democratic Party's core political base consists of the Canton voting districts.

Not one Republican holds elective office in Canton (non-judicial offices).

Council president and ardent Democrat Allen Schulman over my years of covering Canton City Council has often railed against the impact of Republican supermajority Ohio General Assembly (OGA) legislation which has adversely affected the financial viability of Ohio urban areas in general and Canton city government in particular for some five years now.

Which political party controls the state Legislature has a direct and dramatic effect on the functioning of the cities, villages, townships and school districts which comprise Ohio's political subdivisions.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the political players and believers in competitive and thereby likely fair legislative districts to weigh-in on the process by which state House and Senate districts are formulated.

In November, 2015 Ohioans passed an amendment to the Ohio Constitution which sets up a new process by which districts will be composed  However, there will be no new districts at the very earliest the 2022 election for the Ohio legislative.

While there is a record that the Ohio Republican and Democratic political organizations supported the effort, there is no such record on the Stark County Republican and Democratic organizations following the lead of the state level entities.

Nevertheless, the proposed amendment did well in Stark in pretty much mirroring the margin across all of Ohio.

As important as reordering Ohio's state legislative district to be drawn more fairly, equally important is how the districts for the United States House of Representatives are composed.

An organization known as Fair Districts Ohio (FDO) has taken up  a ballot initiative quest to extend fairly drawn districts to Ohio's congressional district.

The Stark County Political Report has begun coverage (LINK to first blog) of the initiation of this ballot measure  which is projected to be on the November, 2018 ballot.

In my first blog on this topic, I wondered who might lead the FDO petition initiative in Stark County.

It appears that the answer is in:  the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party.

The first indication of such came when Council Democratic majority leader Frank Morris, IV marshalled the attention of his fellow council members to hear him out on a political matter, to wit:

Between the end of the council work session and the formal meeting, I talked briefly with Leader Morris about how he came to be involved in the FDO petition effort, to wit:

The most direct and immediate impact on local governments like Canton City Council comes from the actions of the state Legislature but as we have seen with the control of the U.S. Congress and the office of president being with the Republicans there are consequences for lower levels of government and individual citizens as to who sits in the centers of power at the national level.

Some headliner current issues the federal policy on which have a huge impact on state and local governments as well as local citizens include:
  • Obamacare versus Trumpcare,
  • Immigration,
  • Climate matters, and
  • the integrity/security of our elections
The most direct connection that day-in, day-out citizens have with the federal government is through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Town Hall meetings are popping up across the nation as a forum in which cveryday citizens get direct and personal with congress-persons who represent their districts.

That House members have to stand for election every two years and represent a much smaller constituency than the Senate members (who run for 6 year terms) and which not filtered by the electoral college structure of the presidential election, makes the U.S. House races the most structurally responsive.

The SCPR applauds the action of the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party and its chairman Phil Giavasis to get involved in getting the FDO generated petition drive to get congressional redistricting on the November, 2018 ballot.

Of course, being a distinctly minority party as between the two mainline political parties, makes it a matter of self interest that the Dems take up this cause.  So one cannot be sure that there much if any civic purpose in the Dems undertaking.

Hopefully, Stark County "organized" Republicans will follow suit.

If the Stark GOP does so it will be evidence that the party cares about the health and vitality of our democratic-republican political system over political party self interest.

For given the political dominance that Republicans have statewide and in congressional district make up, it is clearly in the interest of  local/state Republican Party operatives to sit on their collective hands.

This is a grand opportunity for the Grand Old Party to show it cares more about the overall strength of our political system than on its parochial interest.

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