Highland County commissioner Gary Abernathy has decided not to seek re-election next November, calling it a difficult decision he discussed over the past several weeks with family and friends.
A former editor and publisher of The Times-Gazette who also writes a column for The Washington Post, Abernathy made the announcement Tuesday morning, saying that a decision had to be made before the Dec. 11 filing deadline for candidates.
“Ideally, with more than a year to serve in my current term, and with the 2020 general election more than a year away, I would have preferred to wait a few more months before making a decision on whether to run again,” Abernathy said in a news release. “But with Ohio’s early primary in presidential election years, the Dec. 11, 2019 filing deadline requires potential candidates to make such decisions well in advance.”
He said he had to weigh several considerations in deciding whether to make the commitment to continue as a commissioner. Among those considerations, he said, was that there were broader opportunities in journalism that he wanted to pursue, in addition to his wife Lora starting a new job in downtown Cincinnati.
“She will be commuting from our home in Hillsboro for now,” he said, “but someday it might be more practical for us to move closer to where she works.”
He said he enjoyed serving with fellow commissioners Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton, who he described as “two excellent commissioners, as well as our great clerks, Nicole Oberrecht and Mary Remsing, and all the other county officeholders and employees.”
Abernathy became the newest of the three county commissioners in July of last year due to the vacancy left when Shane Wilkin was appointed to the state legislature. Abernathy was appointed by the Highland County Republican Central Committee to fill Wilkin’s commissioner position, then won an election for the seat last November.
He thanked the Republican Central Committee members for his appointment to the office in July of 2018 after Wilkin’s departure, and also expressed appreciation to the voters of Highland County and all the supporters who helped in his campaign.
He said he wanted to make the announcement so that others who might be interested in running for his seat next year would have plenty of time to decide before the filing deadline.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “I intend to serve the remainder of my term through 2020, and to continue working with Jeff and Terry to do our best for the people of Highland County.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.