‘I didn’t [become a supervisor] with the expectation that it would be this contentious’
In a two-sentence letter, Hampton Supervisor John Lesinski announced that he will not seek re-election to the Board of Supervisors but will finish out the remainder of his term.
“At this time, I have chosen to focus my future energies on volunteer opportunities in Rappahannock County and on my board appointed positions with the Commonwealth of Virginia and will not seek re-election this November on the Board of Supervisors as the representative of the Hampton District,” reads Lesinski’s Feb. 24, 2019 letter delivered to the Rappahannock News.
“It has been my honor to serve Rappahannock County as an elected official on the Board of Education and the Board of Supervisors over the past eight years and I look forward to finishing out my term for the remainder of 2019.”
In a phone call Monday, Lesinski talked about his time as supervisor and what he looks forward to doing.
“[Serving on the BOS] has been rewarding to a degree,” Lesinski said. “I love the constituent services piece of it and I’m very much enjoying trying to find broadband solutions for the county.”
But he said the level of contentiousness is difficult: “The more frustrating aspects are pretty obvious to anybody that attends our meetings or watches [the meeting videos] on YouTube.”
Often in meetings, Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier will challenge Lesinski and others about issues Frazier disagrees with, interrupting and raising his voice. On several occasions, BOS chair Roger Welch has called out Frazier for his shouting.
“I didn’t [become a supervisor] with the expectation that it would be this contentious,” Lesinski said, “and it’s been frustrating that the tools available to manage that contentiousness have just not been used to the full extent.”
Another frustration has been the series of lawsuits naming Lesinski personally or as a member of the Board of Supervisors.
Two suits brought by Gid Brown Hollow resident Marian Bragg charge BOS members with violating Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) while conducting closed door meetings to discuss personnel issues.
And Amissville resident Tom Woolman alleges in a separate suit that Lesinski violated the state’s Conflict of Interest Act. All three suits are working their way through Rappahannock County Circuit Court.
Lesinski, however, said the contentious BOS meetings and litigation were not the reasons for his decision not to run again for supervisor.
“I just really feel like I can be of more service to the county and the community by pursuing volunteer efforts of my own choosing,” he said.
He would be interested in staying on the BOS’s Broadband Committee and he also serves on the board of Sperryville-based RappU.
Lesinski, at the same time, serves on two state organizations overseeing veterans’ affairs: the Veterans Services Foundation, to which he was appointed by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; and the Board of Veterans Services, appointed by current Gov. Ralph Northam. He’s also involved with the U.S. Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
Lesinski previously served for 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including four years of active duty in flight training command in Pensacola, Fla., and Meridian, Miss. He was later assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C. He spent an additional 22 years as a U.S. Marine reservist, retiring in 2006 with the rank of full colonel.
About moving off the Board of Supervisors, Lesinski said, “I am confident that there are other people within the Hampton district that could do a fine job [on the BOS]. I’ll also say that I’m a proponent of regular and healthy turnover on the board.
“I don’t think it serves any board, whether it’s the BOS or the School Board or Planning Commission to have members that are on there for 15 to 20 years. We need fresh ideas, we need fresh perspectives, we need new people.”