Gary was elected to his first term as Delaware County Commissioner in November 2012 and assumed office on Jan. 2, 2013. In 2014, 2015 and 2018, Merrell was elected as President of the Board of Commissioners.
Merrell’s career began in Oklahoma where he worked for The Oklahoman newspaper; this ultimately led to several moves and many executive positions in the newspaper field. In 1986 Merrell was recruited to Columbus, Ohio from Oklahoma and began working at The Columbus Dispatch. After 14 ½ years and several promotions, he left The Columbus Dispatch in 2002 as Vice-President of Advertising. That year he moved to Athens, Ohio where he served as publisher of The Athens Messenger and group publisher of Brown Newspapers in Southeast Ohio. In 2007, Brown Publishing brought Merrell to Delaware as Vice President of various papers in central and northwest Ohio as well as publisher of The Delaware Gazette.
Gary has served with the Chamber of Commerce in both Athens and Delaware Counties (formerly a board member and executive member), Rotary, and the United Methodist Churches in communities where he has lived.
Merrell has also served as secretary of the executive committee of United Way of Delaware County, on the board of the Strand Theater, and on the development council for the Stratford Ecological Center. He also serves on the board of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO); he has also served as a member of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and on its executive committee. In late 2019, Merrell was added to the Bord of the County Risk Sharing Authority (CORSA). Other boards directly associated with his role as commissioner have included the 911 Board, DKMM Board, and JFS oversite for Area 7, to name a few. In addition, he is one of the five board members for the Land Bank established in 2018.
Along with his fellow commissioners, past successes during Commissioner Merrell’s seven plus years as commissioner have included the Sawmill Parkway extension, the new courthouse which was completed in 2017, negotiations for the outlet mall at I-71 and 36/37, the sanitary sewer master plan, reorganization of Environmental Services, an emphasis on economic development in the county, and a revamped Finance Authority.
Merrell believes Delaware County must have a strong retail base, smart residential growth, and—the area requiring full attention—quality job creation. All of this can and should be done while valuing and protecting the rural agricultural areas of our county which are a truly unique asset.
Future projects include the remodeling of the recently purchased career center’s north location (an important part of the facilities plan), remodeling the historicl courthouse, selling unneeded county real estate, completion of the branding project, planning and building a new sewer plant in the Alum Creek area, completing the east/west corridor, and Big Walnut interchange to name a few.
Other areas that are included but are not limited to advancing shared service with our township, and improving county purchasing to give our taxpayers maximum value for their tax dollars. We are also continuing the process of evaluating our facilities to ensure an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Doing more with less is the goal and our outstanding Delaware County employees make this possible.