The Beacon Journal attempted numerous times during the past month to arrange an interview with state Rep. Zack Milkovich, the Democratic candidate for Barberton clerk of courts.
The efforts included text messages sent to Milkovich and Ernie Tarle, his friend and a former Akron councilman who is helping with his campaign. Emails were also sent to Tim Gorbach, first vice chair of the Summit County Democratic Party.
In the end, Milkovich sent the newspaper a brief, written statement that mainly criticized his opponent and didn’t delve into any of the questions raised about him during the campaign. He refused to answer questions in a face-to-face or telephone interview or via email.
Diana Stevenson, a Republican and the current clerk, had a face-to-face interview with the Beacon Journal.
Here’s a list of the text messages and emails exchanged between Beacon Journal reporter Stephanie Warsmith and Milkovich and others since late September regarding the newspaper’s desire to meet with Milkovich.
Sept. 27 texts:
Warsmith: I’m doing a brief for tomorrow about probable cause finding on your yard signs. Wanted to give you the chance to respond. Also would like to see if we could meet next week to talk about other issues that have come up.
Milkovich: We spoke to Alan Brubaker at the BOE (Board of Elections) and asked if it was okay to use clerk of courts for brevity’s sake and he said that was fine. If that was improper, it was completely unintentional. What other issues have come up?
Warsmith: We want to talk about the foreclosures, tax lien and circulating petitions in Norton.
Oct. 1 text:
Warsmith: When would you like to get together? How about Friday afternoon?
Oct. 8 text:
Warsmith: Haven’t heard back from you on getting together. Finishing another story this week so we could look at later in the week or next week. Afternoons are best (for) me.
Oct. 9 text:
Milkovich: Won’t have time to meet. I will get you a statement around the issues of interest to you. Just let me know when you need it by. Thanks
Oct. 10 text:
Warsmith: Will you respond to questions via email? That’s not ideal from my standpoint, but is the best alternative if we can’t meet or talk by phone.
Oct. 11 text:
Milkovich: I’m sorry, I really don’t have anything to say and I’m crazy busy knocking on doors.
Oct. 14 text:
Warsmith: OK. Just so you know, I’m meeting with your opponent tomorrow and will be doing a story within the next week.
Oct. 16 emails:
Warsmith to Gorbach: “...Milkovich, with whom I have corresponded through text, has said he doesn’t have time to meet because he’s so busy going door-to-door. He also wouldn’t agree to talk by phone or correspond to emailed questions. I thought I’d reach out to you on this because it’s such an unusual situation for a state representative to refuse to meet with/answer questions from the largest newspaper in his circulation area...”
Gorbach: “...I fwd your concern to Wayne (Jones, Summit County Democratic Party chairman.)”
Gorbach: “FYI -- Wayne sent a request to Ernie Tarle ...”
Tarle: Zack said he will send you a statement if you still want it
Warsmith: I’ll take whatever I can get. I would much rather be able to interview him face to face or over the phone or email him questions. I interviewed Stevenson yesterday. If a statement is all I’m getting, please send it to me Monday. I’m finishing the story next week. Thanks.
Tarle: I think this is as good as it gets although he may take a question. Maybe. He really thinks you folks have an agenda to preserve a status quo which he doesn’t believe is working for regular folks. Wayne (Jones) and I have told him you will be fair. I hope so
Warsmith: I could be more fair if I had the same access to him as I have to his opponent.
Tarle: Ha ha!
Warsmith: You said you might answer a question. How about this: is Zach’s real name Zdravko?
Tarle: C’mon Steph! We’re (out) knocking on doors as we speak. Let the poor guy run his race If I say yes, your editors will say he’s a communist!