Ready to tackle a new challenge

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]

On Monday, the Highland County Republican Central Committee voted to appoint me to the county board of commissioners to replace Shane Wilkin.

In separate votes, the committee voted to appoint me to serve the remainder of this year, as well as to appear on the ballot in November for the election to fill the remainder of Shane’s term through 2020. The Democratic Party will appoint a Democrat to appear on the November ballot as well (someone who I’m sure will be a strong candidate – I hope we do debates!).

There were other great Republicans for the committee to consider on Monday. During the interview process they put us all in a room in the basement of the county administration building – they politely call it a “lounge,” but it’s more of a storage room – so we all sat together for about three hours or so while, one by one, we went across the hall for the interviews, where all 31 members of the central committee listened to and questioned each candidate.

Rather than being uncomfortable or awkward together, there was an atmosphere of friendliness and good humor in the candidate holding room. The candidates agreed that the central committee’s process had been fair, thorough and equitable. Each of the candidates brought various qualities to the table, and I hope every one of them stays involved and puts their names forward again at some point for public service.

After nearly seven years back at The Times-Gazette, I had decided a while back that my time here was nearing an end, the main reason being nothing more than it was time for a change. When I first began considering what to do next, seeking public office — either by election or appointment — never entered my mind.

But after Shane’s election to the Ohio House of Representatives, which in this unique case meant his immediate appointment to fill Cliff Rosenberger’s seat in Columbus, I was asked – as many people get asked from time to time about seeking office — whether I would consider throwing my hat in the ring for Shane’s commission seat. My first response was what it has been any time I’ve ever been asked – no thanks.

But as time went by, and I discussed it with my wife, my children, my parents, other family members and many friends, I began to rethink it. I’ve had a career in both journalism and politics that provided me with an education in government at all levels and an understanding of how the process works. I began to think that maybe I could bring something to the table that would be helpful to my home county, working with commissioners Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton as well as other officeholders to tackle what will be some very challenging times coming up.

So I decided to take the leap. The committee’s vote to appoint me is, sincerely, very humbling. Sixteen votes were needed to select an appointee, and they stop counting once someone reaches that number. So I don’t know how many committee members voted for me beyond 16, if any, but I do know that other candidates received votes, too, and rightfully so – it was a great lineup of individuals willing and eager to serve our county and our people.

Thank you to all the committee members who voted for me. As a first-time candidate for anything, I have a better understanding of how truly humbling it is when people cast their vote for you – even from a relatively small pool like a central committee — entrusting you with carrying out the people’s business.

And thank you to the committee members who voted for someone else — even though they were not chosen, each of them was deserving of support. Whether you voted for me or one of the other excellent candidates, I will try to make you proud. All I can promise is to do my best.

My last day as publisher and editor here will be Friday, July 13 (yes, Friday the 13th, and my wife’s birthday, how appropriate). So next Tuesday I’ll say a final farewell in these pages (don’t worry, it won’t be too sappy or lengthy, promise), although I plan to keep writing as a freelancer to keep my hand in the journalism pool. Maybe I’ll start a blog, who knows. But my time and energies will be primarily focused on this latest chapter of my life.

See you here for some final thoughts Tuesday.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456, or follow on Twitter @AbernathyGary.

By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]