COLUMBUS – With a challenge that is unprecedented in Ohio Farm Bureau Federation history, Terry McClure of Paulding County defeated Bob Gibbs of Holmes County as president of the statewide farm organization.
McClure, who served as first vice president, challenged Gibbs for the top spot in a board meeting on the final day of the OFB’s annual meeting in Columbus Nov. 30-Dec. 1. The board supported McClure for the post and made that recommendation to the full delegate body for final election.
Delegates voted in McClure by a 226-66 margin.
“I apologize for the surprise of this (election) to you,” said McClure in a brief address to delegates after the vote. “I apologize for the shock.”
“My goal is to be the best leader this organization has ever had,” he added. “I want this organization to go forward, to become the conservative activists we are and stop letting the other side set the agenda.”
McClure, who has been on the state board since 1995, operates a 2,600-acre corn, soybean and wheat farm near Grover Hill, Ohio. He also owns a grain hauling business.
Gibbs, a pork producer from western Holmes County, rose to the OFB’s top post in an equally unusual vote in March 1999. At that time, Gibbs challenged Irv Gresser of Wayne County, who was then first vice president. Gibbs’ election marked perhaps the first time in the organization’s history that a first vice president running for the presidency was not elected.
Prior to the OFB presidential election, delegates in Coshocton, Holmes, Knox and Licking counties re-elected Gibbs to another three-year term as trustee.
“Bob Gibbs has served Ohio Farm Bureau well,” McClure later told Farm and Dairy, “but the board members felt comfortable with the change.”
McClure said he wants to speak to the membership more clearly and more often. “The average farmer-member needs to understand these technical and difficult issues. I think we need to give better explanations.”
The new OFB president also said he wants to inspire the membership into action. “If each one of them gets involved, there’s nothing we can’t do,” McClure said.
Reacting to the election, Columbiana County Farm Bureau president and delegate Lucille Huston said the board has a right to make a change “if they feel the leadership has not been what they would like to have.
“They (trustees) work more closely with the officers,” she added. “They have a right to make a change.”
Four new trustees were elected to the 26-member OFBF board.
Jeff Zellers of Hartville was elected to the board, representing Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage and Stark counties. He succeeds Bill Kibler of Rootstown, who did not seek re-election. Richard Slicker of East Canton was also a candidate for the position.
“There’s been a lot of talk about being more responsive to the members,” Zellers said, “and I want to do more than just talk.”
Although the leadership shift may seem abrupt to membership, “all of our ultimate interest is for the good of agriculture and the Ohio Farm Bureau,” Zellers said.
He said the board needs to develop a better blueprint of what needs to be done. “I have a keen interest in that move to a stronger issue orientation,” said Zellers, who has been at the forefront of Farm Bureau’s national fight for science-based research used to implement the Food Quality Protection Act.
Incumbent Brenda Myers of Berlin Center was defeated in her re-election bid by Gale Betterly of Richfield. Betterly will serve as the new women’s trustee representing the northeast region of Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Harrison, Huron, Jefferson, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.
Also newly elected to the board is Vickie Powell of Bidwell, representing Athens, Gallia, Lawrence and Meigs counties. She succeeds Glenn Lackey who did not seek re-election. Ellen Joslin of Sidney was elected as the new women’s trustee from northwestern Ohio to succeed Nancy Cessna of Cygnet, who chose not to run again.
In addition to Bob Gibbs, incumbents re-elected to the board included: Edwin Lamalie, Fremont; Patricia Baldwin, Ashtabula; Lee Oswalt, Mansfield; Andrew Wilson, Somerset; and Jack Tucker, Jackson.
McClure spoke to the new board after the close of the annual meeting Friday afternoon. At that meeting, Tim Corcoran of Chillicothe was elected first vice president and Bob Peterson of Washington Court House was elected to succeed Corcoran as treasurer.
The trustees are not scheduled to meet again until late January.