COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Politics have been part of Nan Whaley’s life for as long as she can remember, literally.
She says her first memory is a debate with Ronald Reagan, who would go on to be the family’s boogeyman.
She recalls sitting at the dinner table at a young age and her mother asking her if she knew why there was no meat on the table.
Whaley was five years old, she had no idea why there was no meat on the table. Her mother told her that Ronald Reagan took the meat off their table.
For the next few years, if it was raining outside, she was certain that it was Reagan’s fault.
Whaley’s father had lost his job as a result of policies stemming from Reagan’s Washington politics.
Eventually, he got his job back, and meat returned to the family table.
There have been a number of women role models in Whaley’s life that helped to shape who she is today.
Her mother is perhaps the biggest one of them, serving her local community as an elected official.
But in 1990, her mother ran for Indiana State Auditor and lost. Suddenly, Whaley wanted nothing to do with politics.
At 14 years old, she didn’t like the fact that people didn’t like her mother and so she turned her focus to education.
She would go on to attend college in Ohio at the University of Dayton, where she earned a degree in chemistry.
It was during her time at college that her parents urged her to let politics back into her life and help get Bill Clinton re-elected.
Whaley started a student group at the university and would go on to run for a city commissioner seat in Dayton.
An unknown at the time, Whaley was unmarried and had no roots in the community, but she had fallen in love with it and wanted to serve.
She was elected then, and a few years later, the people of Dayton elected her as their mayor.