Highland County commissioner Gary Abernathy (Photo courtesy of Abernathy for Commissioner campaign)
Highland County commissioner Gary Abernathy (Photo courtesy of Abernathy for Commissioner campaign)
Gary Abernathy announced his resignation as Highland County commissioner, effective Oct. 2, during the commission’s Wednesday, Sept. 9 meeting.

As previously reported, Abernathy was appointed by the Highland County Republican Central Committee July 2, 2018 due to the resignation of former commission president Shane Wilkin, who was appointed to the Ohio House seat for the 91st District. Abernathy began serving as commissioner that week.

In 2018, voters selected Abernathy in the general election to fill the unexpired term of Wilkin, which ends Jan. 1, 2021. Abernathy announced Oct. 8, 2019 that he would not be seeking re-election in 2020.

Abernathy announced Wednesday that he is resigning effective Oct. 2, as he and his wife will be moving out of Highland County.

“When I announced I wasn’t going to run for reelection again, one of the big reasons was because we didn’t know where my wife, Lora, was going to be working out of,” Abernathy said. “She had taken a job in Cincinnati, and there was a good chance we would be moving closer to Cincinnati. That was kind of an unknown.

“As things have worked out, that’s exactly what we will be doing. I’d hoped to finish out my term before that happened, but it’s just not going to work out that way.”

Commission president Jeff Duncan thanked Abernathy for his service to the county.

“We hate to lose you,” Duncan said. “You’ve been a good commissioner, and we do appreciate the work you’ve done for the county.

“We’re sorry to hear you’re moving but also grateful for what you’ve done.”

“I appreciate that,” Abernathy said. “You guys have been fantastic to work with.

“It’s a great group, and of course Mary [Remsing] and Nicole [Oberrecht, commission clerks] actually run the county.”

Highland County Republican Party Executive Chair Paulette Donley also thanked Abernathy in a comment to The Highland County Press.

“We thank Gary for his service to the county and again wish him well in his future endeavors,” Donley said.

Abernathy said he “would hope and assume David Daniels will be appointed in my place.” Daniels — a former county commissioner, state representative, state senator, Ohio Department of Agriculture director and Greenfield mayor and councilman — announced his candidacy for the commission seat in October 2019. He is running unopposed on the Nov. 3 ballot.

“He’ll just get a couple months’ head start,” Abernathy said.

Donley told The Highland County Press that she will speak with the Highland County Board of Elections and legal counsel to determine the appropriate time to hold a special meeting to appoint a replacement on the commission. She added that the Republican Central Committee’s “obvious choice” for Abernathy’s replacement is Daniels.

“We’re disappointed to see [Abernathy] leave early; however, it will give our former commissioner and our candidate for commissioner Dave Daniels an opportunity to start work early,” Donley said. “I’m speaking ahead of the committee, but the obvious choice would be our candidate for the position, Dave Daniels. We have every confidence he'll do a great job.”