9 Questions for Anyone Running for Office In Canton

The City of Canton, Ohio is truly at a crossroads. Finally, there is real momentum in the effort to turn around our long languishing rust belt city. Unfortunately, there are also the usual braggadocios players arguing the best way forward while ignoring the obvious pain points.

So, good people of Canton, I ask you not to support anyone seeking office until they answer these eight questions and do so to your satisfaction. As my grandfather would say we have to separate the wheat from the terra.

True leadership anticipates and mitigates crisis before they arise. What unknown pitfalls do you see on the horizon for Canton that you will work to resolve, implement, etc.?

Why do I ask?

It isn’t enough to be qualified to serve. You must have a vision and passion to lead. This is not the time in Canton’s history to hold a popularity contest. We need elected officials who understand the complexities of turning this city around and who can advocate for the measures that will get it done.

Will you support a higher degree of government transparency?

Why do I ask?

As the comprehensive plan says, in order for it to be successful the people of Canton have to be engaged. The more informed the more engaged people are. A great place to start would be for the city auditor to begin posting CAFR annual reports online again. These have not been posted since 2013.

What are your thoughts on diversity?

Why do I ask?

In order to attract and retain millennials a commitment to diversity has to be made. The empowerment of women and minorities, as well as the diverse artistic, culinary and entertainment a multicultural community provides is exactly what millennials are leaving the area to seek.
Also, Canton has a growing Spanish speaking community and with it a growing need for bilingual services. In order to keep this segment of the community from being undeserved clear vision to stay ahead of the curve is needed.

With budget cuts in Columbus and a decrease in local tax revenue, where do you stand on tax increases to bridge the gap?

Why do I ask?

Local tax receipts are trending downward and Columbus is cutting funding sent to communities. The only way to continue the current momentum may be to raise taxes. Raise them too high and you run the risk of exacerbating the flight out of the city.

Your thoughts on Canton City Schools?

Why do I ask?

Despite Canton City Schools spending more per pupil than surrounding districts, the school system continuously receives a failing grade from the state. We need to address how poverty and violence is impacting learning in order to stop failing our next generation. We cannot market our community if our schools are failing.

What are your ideas to improve public safety?

Why do I ask?

There were 7 homicides in 2015, 12 in 2016 and already in 2017 there have been high profile shootings. Stark County notched 59 heroin overdoses in 2017. In order for any economic development to take root our city has to provide a reasonable sense of security. The optics of these statistics are not good for our community. We can’t shrug our shoulders at these problems anymore. It’s no small feat but we need heightened public safety regardless of budgetary constraints. A solution is critical.

What are your ideas for increasing economic development?

Why do I ask?

Unemployment in Canton is currently trending upward according to BLS data (6.4% in February 2017, 1.5% higher for Canton than statewide). Nationwide Insurance is slated to begin phasing out local jobs and oil & shale has scaled back production. The one bright spot, Hall of Fame Village, creates unique challenges for downtown businesses. What is your vision to mitigate this?

Will you commit to combating hunger and homelessness in our city?

Why do I ask?

According to 2016 census data 32.3% of Canton residents live in poverty. One in every six Stark County residents live with food insecurity. As the county seat Canton bears the brunt of this problem. What vision do you have to decrease the at risk population, not just service them?

What criteria do you feel a business needs to meet to qualify for TIF Funds?

Why do I ask?

At some point Canton has to start attracting development that can operate at market rate and pay market rate taxes in order to offset the current general fund shortfalls. TIF funds should be reserved for projects that create jobs and benefit the greater community, not just a select few.

 

Do you have questions that you would like those seeking office to answer? As always your input is welcome. Feel free to post your questions here or connect with me on social media. I’m honestly looking for input on these points and will try to get your questions answered as well.

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2 thoughts on “9 Questions for Anyone Running for Office In Canton

  1. Patrick G Wyatt Reply

    Patrick G Wyatt Dear Mr. Dan Braxton, I would be happy to answer your questions. Please see below:True leadership anticipates and mitigates crisis before they arise. What unknown pitfalls do you see on the horizon for Canton that you will work to resolve, implement, etc.?

    A. The pitfalls that I see on the horizon for Canton that I will work to resolve and or implement would be to continue to follow the comprehensive plan voted on by city council. If we do not start soon to implement recommendations and develop the downtown, this could become pragmatic for our city. We will be unable to attract new businesses and residence to our city. If elected, I will encourage others to open a business and live in downtown, just as my wife and I have done.

    Will you support a higher degree of government transparency?

    A. I am a firm believer that as a leader in government, you need to be transparent and honest with the citizens you represent.

    What are your thoughts on diversity?

    A. Diversity and inclusion allows all people to prosper and benefit within the city. Many great cities have diverse communities. New York where my daughter resides is a great example of this. Canton also has a diverse group of people and cultures, with proud heritages.

    With budget cuts in Columbus and a decrease in local tax revenue, where do you stand on tax increases to bridge the gap?

    A. Simply raising taxes is not the answer. You have to be fiscally responsible in your spending. Look for ways to collaborate with other agencies/governments. With the HOFV spending millions of dollars, we need to do a better job lobbying for funds in Canton. I posed this question to our Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, should she become our next Governor would she release funding to our city to develop it with the HOVC?

    Your thoughts on Canton City Schools?

    A. I would like to the see Canton McKinley coming downtown and connected to the existing Timken HS building. Then buses can transport students for one school only, since they have now combined.

    What are your ideas to improve public safety?

    A. If elected to city council at large, I would be the only OPOTA certified commissioned peace officer member of council. I worked 24 years part-time officer with Jackson Twp. PD. I currently maintain my Special Deputy commission with the Stark County SO. I am a firm believer our city needs to raise the bar on safety for our citizens. My father was the longest serving police chief in the history of the Canton Police Department. I understand the issues facing our neighborhoods. Manpower has been always below city code. I would encourage more proactive policing, than reactive. Getting out more in the neighborhoods that have a higher crime rate. Collaboration with other law enforcement agency is a must, since we do not have funding of more officers.

    What are your ideas for increasing economic development?

    A. Currently the mayor is looking for a planner to execute the comprehensive plan. We should be looking for an individual who can accomplish that goal, and drive economic development and market the city at the same time. We as a city need to start working on a complete “streetscape” to connect downtown with the HOFV. By doing this, we should have a blueprint of new businesses along that route.

    Will you commit to combating hunger and homelessness in our city?

    A. Currently there are a number of non-profit agencies within the city that address the homeless and hungry. However, making sure they are placed with the right agency is important. I also serve on the Canton City Health Board. There are many programs within the health department that help those in need. The Health Department also receives several grants that help fund the department without taking those funds from the general fund.

    What criteria do you feel a business needs to meet to qualify for TIF Funds?

    A. I believe Ohio Law defines what criteria for TIF in municipalities.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick G Wyatt
    Independent Candidate for City Council at Large (4/5/17)

  2. Bill Winder Reply

    Pat,
    Great questions that have needed asking for many years! I know some of your thoughts from having coffee with you! You have Rita and I as supporters. Let me know if I can help!
    Bill Winder

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