‘We used to solve problems, now we create them’
Roger Welch has decided not to run for re-election for Wakefield district supervisor in November’s election.
Welch has sat on the board for 20 years and has been its chair for the last ten. In a phone call to the Rappahannock News, Welch called it “a tough decision” not to seek another term on the county’s Board of Supervisors, but that he needed to step down due to illness.
“I don’t want anyone to misunderstand [my motivation for the decision],” he said, referring to the contentious nature of BOS meetings in recent years. “My leaving has more to do with my Parkinson’s.” He said he also wanted to spend more time with his three grandchildren.
He did acknowledge, however, that being a supervisor had become more difficult.
“For the first 16 to 18 years on the Board of Supervisors, I enjoyed going to meetings,” Welch said. “We used to solve problems, now we create them.”
He declined to elaborate on the problems being created, but the BOS or individual supervisors have been parties to four lawsuits since 2016. Two suits brought by Gid Brown Hollow llama farmer Marian Bragg allege that the BOS violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on several occasions.
Another suit, brought by Amissville resident Tom Woolman, alleges that Hampton Supervisor John Lesinski, who has also decided not to seek reelection, violated Virginia’s Conflict of Interest Act (COIA) in not disclosing possible personal interests in transactions while he was on the BOS and serving as School Board chair.
In yet a fourth lawsuit, Harris Hollow resident George Sonnett charges three members of the board with violations of COIA. Rock Mills lawyer David Konick represents all three plaintiffs.
Welch claimed that another local outlet misrepresented his reason for choosing not to run again by attributing the decision to being tired of verbal attacks by Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier in BOS meetings.
“I get along with Ron pretty good,” Welch said. “We just don’t agree on some things. He’s been rough on me, but I just ignore him and turn the other cheek.”
The 72-year-old Welch was brought up in Flint Hill. He served in the U.S. Navy for six years before spending 36 years at General Electric as a hardware engineer. He earned an associate’s degree at a community college and attended Virginia Tech for two years. His daughter lives in Charleston, S.C., and his son in Culpeper.