News, notes & opinions: January 2016

There was a time I didn’t take Lee Brunckhart seriously as a candidate for Massillon’s mayor. I won’t make that mistake again.

There was a time I didn’t take Lee Brunckhart seriously as a candidate for Massillon’s mayor. I won’t make that mistake again. Brunckhart, a Republican, lost his bid to unseat Kathy Catazaro-Perry in a three-way race. Frank Cicchinelli, the Democratic former mayor, ran as an independent and split the vote. Catazaro-Perry had 3,572 votes (40.4 percent), Brunckhart had 3,026 votes (34.3 percent) and Cicchinelli had 2,234 votes (25.3 percent).

Brunckhart didn’t win, but he had the most impressive campaign, and here’s why: According to the campaign finance report in October, Brunckhart spent the least. He had $103 to finish the closing weeks of the election. Using the October numbers, Brunckhart spent 49 cents per vote on Election Day. It cost

Catazaro-Perry $5.66 a vote to keep her job, and Cicchinelli was the least efficient, spending almost $12 a vote.
What Brunckhart needs to do is run for a council spot and keep his name in city politics. He is a driver at SARTA—a blue-collar guy whose common-sense politics appeal to Massillon voters. Keep an eye on him in the coming months. In fact, Catazaro-Perry would be wise to hire him. —TODD PORTER

Canton Mayor-elect Tom Bernabei will have some tough decisions to make in his first quarter on the job in 2016. He is inheriting a shrinking budget, and Canton is in the process of deciding whether to implement the city’s first comprehensive plan since the 1960s.

The plan calls for $125 million in private investment and $125 million in public money. The only way this plan will get fully funded will be by a tax increase of some sort. That was the elephant in the room during the campaign, and it remains the elephant in the room.
—Todd Porter

Another holiday season has come and gone. I suspect many of you run households like mine, making January pay-the-piper time.

Legos are a holiday must in my house. Such was the case when I was a kid—I still have, oh, a hundred thousand of mine, give or take a few—plus what my children have accumulated.

(Yes, I know that’s a lot … and yes, I know where I can get counseling.)

Toys ’R’ Us and Target have decent Lego selections. I’ve even seen rather nice displays pop up in places such as Books-A-Million.

But if your child is interested in Legos at all, you MUST check out Sir Troy’s Toy Kingdom on South Main Street in North Canton. Another location at the Hartville MarketPlace has more limited hours.

We’re talking walls and walls of Legos (plus other brands, such as Breyer or Playmobil)—stuff that’s long since been discontinued at the big-box stores.

You’ll pay the piper just a little more on many things there. But I’m telling you, it’s a small price to pay for the service you receive and the genuine awe you’ll see on your child’s face when they first see the Lego city in the back.

• I’m going to block a lot of Facebook friends because of political posts.
• The Cavaliers are going to win the NBA title.
• One of my children is going to talk me into an unplanned purchase at Sir Troy’s Toy Kingdom.
—Scott Brown

Finding a pulse
I like to explore. So, one of the most exciting things in my second stint working in downtown Canton is getting acquainted (in some cases re-acquainted) with businesses that are striving every day to keep the central city vibrant and growing.

There is a pulse in downtown Canton that hasn’t existed in years—a real sense that the momentum building with new or improved shops and restaurants, upscale housing and the arts district is sustainable and points toward even bigger and better things to come.

Promotions such as First Friday and Downtown Deals Wednesdays are designed to get people to visit downtown, to see that it is very much alive. Both lured me to try new experiences. Over the past few months, I’ve opened my wallet at George’s Lounge, Bender’s Tavern, Capestrain Jewelers, Conestoga Grill, Amvets 555, Chit Chat Cafe, Thatsa Wrapp and Napoli’s.

Without exception, the service at these merchants—the main reason I choose whether to become a repeat customer—was exemplary. In an era when finding good service is rare, I am batting nearly 1.000 in my experiences downtown.

That’s a great sign, as people will return to places where they feel they’re valued.

I encourage you to explore downtown Canton. You’ll like what—and who—you find.
—Rich Desrosiers