Gary is a common sense conservative with a tendency to believe that tomorrow can always be better with hard work, vision, and collaboration. Someone recently observed, "You seem to always look on the bright side and have an optimistic view of the future."
Gary responded with two of his favorite quotes, "Obstacles are opportunities" and "problems are possibilities."
This vision of a better tomorrow is the reason Gary chose, "Hope for Ohio" as the theme for his campaign. For him this is more the idealism, it is the experience of his life.
Like many, Gary was raised in a broken home. His father was captivated by addictions that eventually led to homelessness and an early death. Meanwhile, his godly mother was raising three children on her own. She was a recipient of government assistance but could not be satisfied without the dignity of work. It took determination to break free of the system and overcome what is commonly known as the benefits cliff to earn her way into the workforce. Ultimately, she worked her way into upper management and retired with the dignity that comes from being productive.
Early on Gary decided that he wanted to make his life count for something. As trivial as this seems to some, he really wanted to make a difference for others and so chose a career in ministry. His first ministry utilized his talents in theater to reach and influence teenagers and college age youth across the nation through Christian drama with The Academy of Arts. As his family began to grow, he knew that it was time to come off of the road and settle down. That's when he accepted a position as an associate pastor at the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Richmond, Indiana. It was long before a church on the other side of Indiana sought him out as their lead pastor. He remained there until being recruited by the Fremont Baptist Temple, where he has served as lead pastor since 2006.
Both churches that Gary assumed leadership of were in financial distress when he assumed the helm. The church in Indiana made an instant turnaround. In Fremont, the church had dwindled to nearly nothing. They had closed the doors on their Christian school and the church itself was about to close its doors. With the looming debt the property would have been assumed by the bank. Under Gary's leadership, the school was revitalized, the congregation grew and the mortgage has been paid off. Gary did not take a ready-made work but rather a project that had possibility but was in desperate need of some TLC.
This is a reflection of Gary's vision of taking on the hard challenges, having hope for the future. It is easy to step into a ready made business, career or vocation. But Gary is one of those people that chooses the path less traveled, believing that he can make a difference.
In addition to pastoral duties, Gary has served as a law enforcement and hospice chaplain. It was during these times that he was able to serve folks in the community and bring hope during the most difficult times of their lives.
Gary founded Cowboy Camp as a community outreach for elementary age young people. During Cowboy Camp hundreds of kids have the opportunity to ride horses, shoot BB guns and participate in archery and other activities, all free of charge.
Gary's inclination to make a difference in his community makes political engagement a natural fit. Pastors like John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence), Roger Williams (founder of Rhode Island), John Leland (activist), John Peter Muhlenberg (Revolutionary war general and statesmen) and his brother Fredrick Augustus Muhlenberg (first Speaker of the House and signer of the Bill of Rights) were leading examples of politically engaged pastors during the founding of our nation. It is natural for those inclined to serve their community to do so on multiple levels.
Gary's political engagement began as the National Legislative Director for the Buckeye Christian School Organization. Soon Bob Latta connected him with the Sandusky County Republican Party where he became an at-large member. In 2015, he placed his name on the ballot for an open seat on the Sandusky County Commission. Although he did not prevail, this set the stage for Gary to be appointed to the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee and to be elected to the same office in 2018.
Gary was invited to serve on Josh Mandel's faith coalition during his most recent bid for the United States Senate. Afterwards, he was tasked with establishing a faith coalition for the DeWine|Husted campaign. When President Trump came to Lewis Center for a rally in 2018, Gary was invited to give the opening invocation. His prayer was enthusiastically received by the president's supporters but not so much by his opponents.
After the Governor DeWine assumed office, Gary was tasked with establishing the Governor's Evangelical Advisory Council which he chaired. This is the first council of its kind anywhere in the nation. Gary was honored to present Governor DeWine with the Champion of Life Award for the governor's commitment to sign the Heartbeat Bill. Two days later, he was standing with the governor as he signed the bill into law. Gary used one of the pens from this signing to sign his petitions to run for state representative.
As people began to turn their attention towards 2020, interested parties in both Seneca and Sandusky counties and elsewhere began to ask Gary to consider tossing his hat into the ring. After prayer and council from friends, family and community leaders Gary felt like the door was open and the support from the community was obvious. He advised the Governor's administration of his choice and announced on August 15 that he would be running to serve as the next Representative for Ohio's 88th house district.