Not All Politics Is Local: Reflections of a Former County Chairman

Not All Politics Is Local: Reflections of a Former County Chairman

Not All Politics Is Local: Reflections of a Former County Chairman

Not All Politics Is Local: Reflections of a Former County Chairman


This engaging narrative takes us behind the scenes and past the analyses and renders the inside story of the Allen County (Ohio) Democratic Party during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

More than just portraying the internal dynamics of a political party, Not All Politics Is Local affords the reader an insight into political life and the contributions to society made by local parties. For Angel, political parties do more than register voters and win elections: they engage the public in dialogue and challenge citizens to take responsibility for their government.


In September 1984, I was managing state senator Steve Maurer’s reelection campaign in Allen County, and a problem had arisen. Veterans groups were upset over plans for an October parade to celebrate the opening of Lima’s brand-new Veterans Memorial Civic Center. One veteran told me that parade organizers had decided on a 1984 theme, replete with “Big Brother” and a retinue of storm troopers marching on Lima’s town square. There was also something about simulating nuclear blasts. the vets wanted no part of this nonsense, no sir. They wanted me to call Maurer to express their displeasure and ask him not to appear in the parade. I obliged and phoned the senator’s office, explaining the problem to Maurer’s aide, Susan Gibler. When I got to the part about nuclear explosions, Susan giggled, stopping me in mid-sentence to ask incredulously, “Bill, what’s in the water up there?” We both laughed, and a friendship started. By the way, the 1984 theme mercifully went away.

Shortly after the Maurer campaign ended, I began composing letters to Susan, recounting the goings-on in Allen County politics. I continued writing from 1986, when she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, though 1988, when she returned to Columbus. At that point, my letter production slowed, as we communicated more regularly by phone and in person. Even so, between 1985 and 1989, I wrote over 120 letters to Susan. Some were quite long—fifteen or more handwritten pages. Others were written over a period of days and look like diaries. All the letters contained elements of personal information, and all offered detailed reflections on prominent events and personalities, as well as memorable conversations. I kept my own copies, seeing each letter as an avenue to my thoughts; consequently, the “Gibler Files” developed into a personal journal describing an intense period in my life. Written as events unfolded, the letters provide a clear window into the weekly (and sometimes daily) operations of the Allen County Democratic Party, particularly in moments of crisis.

My memory has always been good, but it is my letters to Susan Gibler that form the backbone of the narrative; without them, the analysis could not have . . .

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