SIDNEY — The Shelby County Democrat Party has reorganized its executive committee and nominated members to the Shelby County Board of Elections.
At their last regular meeting, Democrat Central Committee members elected executive committee members and appointed Christopher Gibbs of Maplewood as party chairperson, Bethanne Spires of Sidney as secretary, Bill Moloney of Sidney as treasurer, and reconfirmed Merrill Asher of Sidney as vice chairperson.
This leadership change comes as Sidney attorney Thomas Kerrigan recently announced his retirement from the Shelby County Democrat Party chairmanship. He remains a member of the local Democrat Party and Central Committee.
Kerrigan was campaign manager for Sonny Meyer in 1988. Sonny Meyer served as a multi-term Democrat Shelby County Commissioner between 1985 and 1993. In 1988 Kerrigan was instrumental in starting the Young Democrats along with Mike Meyer, Dawn Billing, Mark Harrod, Tom Sekas, and others.
In 1998, Kerrigan managed Dale DeLoye’s campaign for County Commissioner then went on to provide leadership to Derrick Seaver in 2000. Seaver won his Ohio State Representative seat which was unique because Seaver was an 18-year-old recent high school graduate at the time.
In 2014 Kerrigan ascended to the chairperson role replacing Steve Butterfield.
“I’ve always been proud to serve Shelby County voters in any capacity,” said Kerrigan. “I’m confident I’ve left the party in good hands particularly by helping to create our 100 Club fundraising arm and securing a permanent headquarters affectionately known as ‘The Blue House’ at 214 North Ohio.”
New Chairperson Gibbs is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Wooster. He owns and operates farms in Shelby and Logan counties and is retired from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency where he served as county executive director. Gibbs served on the Shelby County Board of Elections from 2007 through 2019 under a Republican appointment. Gibbs left the Republican Party in 2019.
“It’s been a journey, but I’ve found a home in a party that not only appreciates diverse voices and viewpoints but seeks them out and encourages them,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs believes he’s been charged with a significant responsibility to pick up where Kerrigan left off and to guide the party to victories both large and small.
“The party has blessed me with a leadership team of unmatched experienced professionals and I intend to focus those unique talents in service of Shelby County voters,” said Gibbs.
Merrill Asher will remain as vice chairperson. After serving in the National Guard, Asher received his business administration degree from Columbus Business University. He served 28 total years on the Sidney City Council and was a member of the Sidney City School Board. He recently retired from the Shelby County Board of Elections after 15 consecutive years of service under a Democrat appointment.
Bethanne Spires will serve as secretary. Spires received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish education and master’s degree in modern languages from Wright State University. Through her teaching career in language, she taught students at Lehman High School and Fairlawn High School and retired from Sidney High School after 25 years of service. She’s served as an adjunct instructor at Edison State Community College and provided interpreting services to the Shelby County Common Pleas Court, Sidney Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and New Choices in Sidney.
Bill Moloney will serve as treasurer. Moloney is a graduate of Miami University’s School of Business Administration with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and advanced cost accounting. Early on, he managed The Spot Restaurant and Al’s Pizza in Sidney before beginning a career in college and university food service. Moloney has managed food service and dining at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Oklahoma State University, Miami University, and Ohio University.
Gibbs said of his executive committee leadership team, “These are professionals of the highest caliber. Each brings a diverse skill to the table that trumps petty political playground foolishness. Shelby County voters deserve results and these leaders can deliver.”
Rounding out leadership within the Shelby County Democrat Party are the two Democrat appointments to the Shelby County Board of Elections, Susan Dunson and Bill Wiley, both of Sidney.
Susan Dunson was nominated to the Board of Elections in February of this year. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in education from the University of Southern California. Dunson has served as a mathematics instructor in high schools in West Virginia, at the University of Akron, and at Edison State Community College. Her local work history includes controller and finance positions at Copeland/Emerson, LeRoi Compressors, and Holloway Sportswear/Augusta Sportswear Group.
Bill Wiley is the most recent member of the Board of Elections and was nominated in September to serve, replacing Merrill Asher. Wiley received a bachelor’s degree in major European history at the College of Wooster and his master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis in international affairs. He has worked in various Marriott-managed hotels in various supervisory positions. In addition, he served as director of maintenance operations for Washington University in St. Louis overseeing operating budgets of over $12 million. Wiley is currently a general partner in the Francis-Wiley Family Limited Partnership in Orange Township that manages 365 acres of row crops, vegetables, small fruits, and specialty products. Before being appointed to the Board of Elections, Wiley served as an elections official at Shelby County polling places. He is currently a member of the Orange Township Zoning Committee.
“We’re so proud of these appointments and are confident they’ll honor their oath to the Constitution by ensuring voting access to all of our citizens regardless of party affiliation. Our party expects bipartisan management of elections administration in Shelby County,” said Gibbs.
According to Gibbs, as a matter of policy, both Democrat Board of Elections members will not be directly involved in candidate recruitment or lending their names to issues that fall under their oversight at the Board of Elections. “These steps are important to ensure the Democrat members rise above others and are seen as impartial, professional, and deserving of the public trust,” said Gibbs.
Gibbs said this leadership team stands ready to reinvigorate the Democrat brand by filling each of the Democrat Central Committee precinct seats with members who are ready and willing to stand up and advocate for solutions for people.
“I’m looking for community leaders who want to be part of a team to develop local, county, and district candidates who want to provide consensus policy solutions and reject the politics of division,” said Gibbs. “I believe the only way to return our nation to civil discourse is to provide an offsetting balance to extreme voices. This Democrat Party will be the vehicle for that.”