Belmont County

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Mark Thomas appointed Belmont County Commissioner

Updated: Friday, December 6 2013, 12:09 AM EST

By: Ryan Eldredge


Belmont County, OH --


On Thursday night, members of the Belmont County Democratic Party appointed a new commissioner.


Mark Thomas will now serve the county after receiving a majority of the central committee's votes.


It all began a few days ago, when we learned that commissioner Chuck Probst retired due to a technicality involving his benefits and it ended abruptly on Thursday night after 27 of 49 votes went to one of the five candidates. That candidate of course was Mark Thomas.


"I'm surprised to win by such a large margin,” said Thomas. “It is very humbling for me. I honestly did not think that I would get the appointment. I had every reason to know I would be running in 2014. I got some overwhelming support and I'm ready to go."


For Probst the defeat comes as a surprise but it doesn't mean he's done.


“I'll be in the 2014 primary to give people outside the Democratic Party a chance to vote me back in."


Probst says he doesn't regret his decision to retire because he feels like he was forced to do it due to state pay and benefit changes.


"No absolutely not. I was forced because the Ohio General Assembly retirement reform,” said Probst. “I'm looking out for my family first and Belmont County second. Anybody would have done that."


With such lopsided results the only controversy seemed to be the amount of central committee members that participated.


"Well I'm real disappointed because the weather's not that bad,” said Gordie Longshaw, Belmont County Democratic Party Chairman. “There's no excuse not to be here and we have 13 not here to vote on an important matter."


With Thomas officially a commissioner, the group of three must now push ahead.


"I hope with the new commission we will move this county forward,” said Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland. “It's moving at an awfully fast pace and we need to stay right on top of it."


Thomas says his goal is to move the county forward by focusing on the changing economic environment here in the Ohio Valley.


He also says he feels for Probst because of the time they shared as commissioners.


Mark Thomas appointed Belmont County Commissioner

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