Hector McDaniel, Ida Ross-Freeman square off for leadership of Stark County NAACP

Hector McDaniel is seeking another term as president of the Stark County NAACP.
Hector McDaniel is seeking another term as president of the Stark County NAACP.

CANTON – Reforming the local police department is a priority for Hector McDaniel, who is seeking a second two-year term as president of the Stark County NAACP chapter.

His opponent in the election on Tuesday, Ida Ross-Freeman, desires what she calls "a total system reform."

She points to Stark County Job and Family Services, the local criminal justice system and public education as areas where attention should be focused.

"It seems that we have forgotten the children in this community," Ross-Freeman said.

Ida Ross-Freeman, chief operating officer for Stark County Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Outreach Project, is running to become president of the Stark County NAACP chapter.
Ida Ross-Freeman, chief operating officer for Stark County Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Outreach Project, is running to become president of the Stark County NAACP chapter.

Hector McDaniel's work in the Canton community

McDaniel, who holds a master's degree from Kent State University, is a former rehabilitation counselor with the local outpatient clinic of the Veterans Affairs. A native of Cleveland, McDaniel also is a Marine Corps veteran.

"I am working on police reform," McDaniel said. "The police community has to change the way they do things. Police reform is a top priority."

McDaniel, who lives in Plain Township, recently hosted a community symposium on the impact of the Fourth Amendment on the Black community. That amendment to the U.S. Constitution sets guidelines for search and seizure procedures by law enforcement agencies.

Regarding McDaniel's efforts to set the tone for police reform, "he is doing it by himself," said Ross-Freeman, who lives in Canton. "If he is doing it for the NAACP, he needs the Criminal Justice Committee and the Legal Redress Committee. I want police reform, too. Our goal is to reform the system so it will be more friendly and more inclusive of all people in our community. You can't change the people's hearts. No matter how much training you give them, you can't change their hearts."

Ida Ross-Freeman's work in the Canton community

Ross-Freeman is chief operating officer for Stark County Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Outreach Project. She attended North Central State College in Mansfield and Kent State University. She also served one term on the Canton City Board of Education after she was elected in 2011.

"I don't have any animosity toward him (McDaniel)," Ross-Freeman said. "I would be more in tune with the guidelines."

Police conduct in regard to racial minorities has been a concern this year in Canton following the fatal shooting Jan. 1 of James Williams by a Canton police officer. A 46-year-old Black man, Williams was shot while at his home in the 2300 block of 10th Street SW. He had been shooting a firearm to celebrate New Year's Eve, and police responded to reports of gunfire.

The officer was not disciplined by the city administration and not indicted by the Stark County grand jury.

"That is one of the things that sparked us on police reform," McDaniel said. "That officer, no matter how tragic that was, he was within their policy. We can't challenge that. We challenge the policy."

Ross-Freeman has been spearheading the annual Juneteenth observance in Nimisilla Park.

"I have a lot of respect for her," McDaniel said. "She has done some things in this community and managed to push some things forward."

Both candidates said their focus will be on increasing young leadership with the local NAACP branch.

"I only want to be president for one session," Ross-Freeman said. "I am running so I can find some young person to be our new leader."

And McDaniel shared a similar vision.

"I am doing what I call succession planning," he said. "That is bringing in young adult creative leadership. I am going to move this NAACP forward with new young vibrant leadership."

How to vote in the Stark County NAACP election

The voting, which will occur from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, will be facilitated electronically through email or cellphone. To vote, one must have an active membership in the NAACP.

"I would like for the leadership to get more involved with relevant issues in this community," said John Lucas, a local businessman who holds a lifetime NAACP membership. "They could get involved with get-out-the-vote. You have got to get registered. Don't wait a month before the election."

The other contested races on the NAACP election ballot are: vice president, Monique Conner and Monty Pender; secretary, Viola Fisher and Edythe Stinson; and at-large Executive Committee, Gaylon Wesley Brooks and Phillip Brooks.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Stark County NAACP members to vote on chapter presidency.