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Connolly not seeking re-election, citing life-stage time constraints

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John Connolly, center, cites time devoted to an expanding family and work schedule in announcing he will not seek re-election this year. Royal Examiner File Photo

At the Monday, May 14 meeting of the Front Royal Town Council incumbent John Connolly announced he will not seek re-election this November.

“The main reason is there are too many other calls on my time, the 32-year-old told Royal Examiner in echoing his meeting comments. Connolly explained that he has two more children and a different job than when he first ran for elective office in 2014. Then he had two children aged 4 and 2; now his children are 8, 6, 3 and 1, with the two oldest attending elementary school in town.

“I take the responsibility of politics very seriously,” the first term councilman added of a decision based at least in part on his own questioning of his future ability to devote as much time as he feels is necessary to give constituents what they deserve of their elected officials.

Connolly pointed to a survey of the Northern Valley’s elected municipal officials by a media outlet which found him to be, he believes, “by far the youngest”. And as a 32-year-old father of four having made a career move into full-time senior management for a company based in Middleburg, Virginia that trains librarians in software development, the time he now has to devote to municipal politics is not what it was over his first several years on council.

And he noted that during his initial campaign he knocked on an estimated 1,000 doors and maintained a presence at various local festivals to get his name and message out there. As for that message, Connolly also told Royal Examiner it has softened somewhat over his term on council.

“I was a hardcore libertarian when I came in, and serving on council has been an educational process. I wish everybody had the opportunity to serve on council for at least a few months to see the tremendous benefit, as well as what the limitations are and how the mechanism works. I think that would be a moderating force in our politics. Some people only attend (municipal meetings) when there is something they want or something they want to get loud about,” Connolly observed.

“I feel very grateful to have served – and I will still pay attention and stay engaged. I’d love to get back into it at some point,” he concluded. He thanked his colleagues and gave special nods to Town Manager Joe Waltz and Town Attorney Doug Napier for their assistance in grounding him in the work of a councilman.

Connolly’s four-year term will end when a successor is sworn in, in early 2019. He said his announcement nearly six months before the November election was made to give any citizen who might be considering throwing their hat in the ring adequate time to meet the mid-June deadline for filing for a spot on the ballot.

Who is?

Connolly’s notice of his intent to announce his decision sent us scurrying to the County Voter Registrar’s Office to see whose paperwork has been turned in so far to get on the town election ballot. According to Voter Registrar Carol Tobin five candidate Certificates of Qualification have thus far been filed with her office.

Those include Hollis Tharpe for mayor – no surprise there, Hollis has been sporting his campaign hat and has appeared to be in public campaign mode for several weeks now; and four candidates for council.

Filed as candidates for council are the other two incumbents up for election this year, Gary Gillispie and Chris Morrison; as well as former councilman Chris Holloway; and Letasha Thompson.

Local businessman and Warren–Page Branch NAACP Chairman Alford “A.D.” Carter also told us he planned on taking a second shot at a council seat this November, though his paperwork has yet to be filed

Local Government

Council aligns with Planning Commission: No exemption from off-street parking

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The Virginia Beer Museum at 16 Chester Street, may have to nix expansion of its backyard Beer Garden following a Council vote denying an exemption for off-street parking for museums and art galleries. / Royal Examiner File Photo

FRONT ROYAL – A motion to amend Front Royal Town Code 175-127.3 to exempt museums and art galleries from off-street parking requirements failed Monday evening (Jan. 14, 2019) at its second and final reading, as the Front Royal Town Council voted down the measure 4-2.

Councilman Jacob Meza and recently-elected LeTasha Thompson voted in favor of the code change to allow the exemption, while Councilmen Sealock, Tewalt, Gillispie and Holloway voted against the measure.  Prior to the vote Sealock addressed his concerns about a lack of parking data and also reminded the panel that they had originally agreed to affirm the Planning Comission’s  decision.

Virginia Beer Museum owner David Downes had previously submitted a request to receive an off-street parking exemption to expand the entity’s beer garden. The parking spots he hoped to eliminate are behind 14 and 16 Chester Street, where Downes’ law office and the museum are located.

He previously told Royal Examiner that his request was an attempt to be treated the same as the businesses on Main, Jackson and Chester streets, which are exempt from off-street parking requirements.

Last September, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Downe’s request be denied in favor of a town-wide parking study after a public hearing in which 14 citizens spoke in favor of the exemption, with three speaking against it.

In other business, the Town Council’s Monday:

  • Appointed William C. Gordon to the Planning Commission, term expiring August 30, 2020.
  • Appointed Eugene Tewalt and Jacob Meza to the Audit & Finance Committee, term expiring Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Appointed William Sealock as Vice-Mayor. He will serve for two years, until the end of his term.
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Local Government

Town Summit – Part 6, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson. Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this 6th and final presentation of the Town Council Summit, Town Director of Finance B.J. Wilson gives us an ‘Financial Overview’.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 5, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses the EDA

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In late 1967, Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors, by reciprocal ordinances, jointly formed the “Industrial Development Authority of the Town of Front Royal and the County of Warren, Virginia”, pursuant to State statutes. This local Industrial Development Authority (“IDA”) currently is known as the Economic Development Authority, or “EDA”. This session, Town Attorney discusses the EDA and its relationship with the County and the Town.

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 4, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’

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Mayor Hollis Tharpe asks Town Attorney Doug Napier about Roberts Rules of Order. Photo and Video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner.

In this fourth presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Roberts Rules of Order’:

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Local Government

Town Council Summit – Part 3, Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses ‘Conflict of Interest’

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Photo and video by Mike McCool, Royal Examiner

In this third presentation of the Town Council Summit,  Town Attorney Doug Napier addresses issues with Conflicts of Interest:

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Local Government

BOS Reports from County Administrator; County Attorney; WCPS; VDOT

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At the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 8, 2019, the monthly reports from the County Administrator Doug Stanley, County Attorney Dan Whitten gave their reports:


Also Warren County Public Schools – Greg Drescher


And report from Ed Carter, VDOT

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