North Canton says presidential campaigns will have to pay up front to visit

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio-- With the Ohio presidential primary just days away, campaigns are already picking up their intensity across the state.

Over the years, candidates have paid close attention to Stark County voters.

In 2012, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan brought his campaign to Walsh University in August and then Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned in October to campaign in front of thousands at Hoover High School's stadium.

"It was a very successful event. It was great for our city," Mayor David Held said.

It was also an expense that the city was not budgeted to cover.

For the October rally, North Canton paid to have 13 firefighter/paramedics at the event along with 18 police officers, eight street department employees. The city paid more than $572 for "no parking by police order signs."

Held said it is hard to turn the campaign away when they call. It brings notoriety to the city, money from outside visitors and a chance for candidates to see what North Canton is all about.

"Our police chief was called by the Secret Service and said that one of our locations, the stadium, Hoover High School stadium, is being considered to hold an event for the presidential candidate Romney. We had to decide whether we could provide the additional police, fire and EMS that would be required to assist with that event. And we had 24-hours notice, otherwise they were going to consider other locations," Held said.

The $10,000 bill was sent to the campaign for reimbursement, but was never paid.

Held is letting current candidates know,  while he welcomes them in his community, they will have to pay the city's cost of hosting them up front.

"You know, you always incorporate, set aside money in the budget for emergencies. But in this case, a presidential campaign is not an emergency. It's a political campaign and that's why political campaigns raise money by their donors to pay for events like this so we shouldn't be using, we feel, our emergency fund for a presidential campaign," Held said.

The mayor says he believes it is customary for most cities to absorb the cost of hosting the campaigns, but expecting them to pay illustrates a disconnect between Washington D.C. and mainstream America. Especially, where working-class communities, like North Canton, have to balance their budgets.

"We want to let them know that there is a cost associated with it and I think any of the presidential candidates that, when they think about it and when they think about the working-class people and we have to balance our budget, I think they would be sensitive to it," Held said.

"We would welcome them. We would roll out the red carpet for them and we would love to have the presidential candidates, all of them. Al four of the Republicans, both of the Democrats. It would be great for our city. It puts us on the map, but at the same time, we would respectfully request that they pay for the additional police fire and EMS," he said.

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