WOODSTOCK – Longtime Shenandoah County supervisor Conrad Helsley confirmed Tuesday what many residents suspected – he would not run for another term.
Helsley, the board’s chairman, made the official announcement in a written statement he read at the end of the Board of Supervisors meeting. He has represented District 6 as its supervisor for the last four terms of four years each.
Helsley said in an email Wednesday he felt four terms was enough. Helsley added in the email that he hadn’t intended to seek election to a fourth term but residents convinced him to run again four years ago.
The U.S. Justice Department ordered in 1981 that Shenandoah County elect one supervisor per district rather than two, Helsley read from his statement. Only one other candidate since that time has won re-election and he served five years in Helsley’s district. Helsley added that he has served three times longer than anyone else from his district.
“During my time in office, I feel past and present boards have had to make many difficult decisions, and I feel these accomplishments will speak for themselves as we move to the future,” Helsley read.
Helsley provided a list of various projects pursued and approved by past boards, beginning with the new courthouse behind the administration building that includes land for expansion when necessary. The county borrowed money to build the courthouse and to renovate a nearby grocery store into the new home for human services. The county expects to pay off the debt on the project in seven years, Helsley said.
“Even though many citizens expressed concern about the project, its location and timing, we could not have built this facility and remodeled the human services building for a price close to the cost in today’s market,” Helsley read.
The county renovated the former Edinburg School for use by Charterhouse as an educational facility for certain special needs students to reduce cost and travel time to transport them to other facilities, Helsley noted. More than 40 students attend Charterhouse. The county expects the rent paid by Charterhouse for use of the school to cover the debt for the renovation project, Helsley said.
Helsley acknowledged the county’s biggest project – the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail – as a more cost-effective way to handle an increasing number of inmates and a more efficient alternative to expanding the existing facility at the Sheriff’s Office. Estimates at the time put the cost of a new local jail at $27 million, Helsley stated. The supervisor did not mention the county’s fluctuating share of the cost to run the regional jail.
Helsley mentioned more county projects completed during his tenure on the board.
“My goal has always been to be conservative with taxpayer dollars, while also being cognizant of our county’s future needs — not only one or two years into the future but consciously taking into consideration the needs in 10 or 15 years,” Helsley said.
The supervisor credited employees who “make the wheels of the county turn.” Helsley thanked employees past and present for their service to the county. The chairman also thanked volunteers whose work saved the county money.
Helsley went on to tell the board and the audience that someone would announce Wednesday his or her intentions to run for election to the District 6 seat. Helsley would not say who would make the announcement.
Election Day is Nov. 5.