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.
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