The town has been the private domain of Republican Mayor Don Robart's Administration since 1984. It is the second largest entity in Summit County (after Akron) and the first largest dissenter in warring words with the Democratic mayor of Akron, Don Plusquellic. The two administrators simply don't like each other. Never have. Never will. As such, Robart has pretty much had his own way within the confines of his City Hall. But that's another story.
His long tenure in the Falls has received a helping hand from the Democrats, who have been known to run some inept campaigns to oust him, a sort of concession that permits the Kurds to play by their own rules in northern Iraq without interference from Baghdad. (Full disclosure: I lived in the Falls for many years, so I know what I am talking about!)
The landscape might change because some Democratic operatives are saying they won't take "no" for an answer this year and will mount a strong offensive against the 63-year-old Robart. The picture blurs, but excitingly so, because there is another bounty hunter from Robart's own party who would like to retire him. That, of course, is State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, an indefatigable tormentor of the county Republican establishment who has already said he wants to run for governor and would like to somehow claim Robart's scalp along the way. With the Democrats and the endowed conservative Coughlin sharing designs on the mayor, it won't be a marriage made in bipartisan heaven, but it will have to do until somebody has a better idea.
At this non-climactic moment in the Falls' mayoral history, the Democrats still face the problem of putting up a willing candidate to defeat Robart. Some whom I've talked to say Don Walters, the Falls' Sixth Ward councilman, would fit their bill. But Walters tells me that he is quite happy as a councilman and fears that if he lost the mayor's race it would also cost him his council seat. "That's something to think about," Walters says. "So I'm not committed to anything yet. I don't know that now is the time for me to do that."
So although we're talking here about a suburban mayor's race, it is shaping up more as a test of wills with old grievances writing the text. Will the Democrats, all-powerful in most of the county, finally find a way to end their frustrations over the Robart fiefdom in the Falls? Will Kevin Coughlin enhance his chances as a king-making mayor-maker by recruiting a candidate to challenge Robart in the Republican Primary? And will the gathering storm be frightful enough for Robart to give up some days set aside for his regular rounds of jogging?
It's early. The filing deadline is not until June 25. Still, just want you to have a head start before we all get too preoccupied with a new baseball season.