03/29/04 — Gerrard resigns seat to focus on business

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Gerrard resigns seat to focus on business

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 29, 2004 1:59 PM

Wayne County Commissioner Ken Gerrard resigned this morning from the county board, effective immediately.

Gerrard, a commissioner since 1996 and current board chairman, called his decision "strictly financial."

Ken Gerrard


Gerrard had already planned to leave the board at the end of this year, but with Gerrard-Hasty Heating & Air Conditioning heading into its busy season with commercial and residential jobs, he decided he couldn't wait.

"I've enjoyed being a commissioner, but it doesn't pay as good as my other job, and I really need to keep that one," he said. "I don't have eight months to give the county; I need to give it to my business."

The Wayne County commissioners are obligated by state law to ask the Wayne County Democratic Party to recommend a replacement. One candidate could be Walnut Creek Councilman Jack Best, a Democrat who plans to run in Gerrard's District 6.

But the commissioners do not have to accept the party's nominee. Gerrard's resignation leaves a board that's evenly split between the parties, and the Republican commissioners will not likely want to assist a Democratic office seeker.

If the commissioners cannot agree on a candidate, state law will give Clerk of Court Marshall Minchew the power to appoint the replacement.

The resignation also elevates Vice Chairman J.D. Evans to acting chairman.

Gerrard had said in November he wouldn't run for re-election this fall. The rest of the board voted unanimously in December to make Gerrard the chairman for his final year.

But political work continued to wear Gerrard down, he said during an interview at the News-Argus' offices.

The chairmanship didn't add appreciably to his work, but it didn't help, he said. "There were times when I was at ribbon-cuttings and I needed to be with my employees."

He also wants more time to spend with his wife, Lara, and their three sons, Miller, Hayes and Cam.

Gerrard feels like the county made good progress during the past eight years.

He specifically cited the hiring of Lee Smith, "a man of vision," as county manager in 2001. Gerrard was chairman of the search committee and was the commissioner to offer the job to Smith, then the Washington County manager.

He also mentioned the county's work to improve sewer service, its improving relationships with its municipalities, its strong economic development program, last year's revaluation and the countywide emergency medical services system.

He regrets leaving the board while the county prepares for both a school bond referendum and the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure review, he said, but he trusts the remaining commissioners to do what's right.

Gerrard informed Smith of his decision this morning. He had called about half the board and planned to talk to the others today.

Smith was saddened by the news, he said. Gerrard was always supportive of the county staff and often brought a welcomed humor to some discussions. Both men have children about the same age, Smith added.

"Ken's been a good commissioner and a good friend," Smith said.

The commissioners' next meeting will be Tuesday, April 6.