“Eight years is a long time,” said Republican District 3 Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad, referring to his two terms serving on the board.
In what is a disappointment to many conservatives in Guilford County, Conrad will not make a run for a third term on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners – at least not next year.
He said he may very well, at some point, run for political office again – and that could include a run for the seat he now holds. However, Conrad said on Tuesday, Nov. 9, that, after thinking long and hard about the decision, he’d decided not to run for reelection.
He said that one key reason is that the crazy economy has meant that his business requires a huge amount of time right now.
Conrad has certainly been very involved in commissioner matters and has been front and center on things like seeing the new Guilford County animal shelter through to fruition. But Conrad, who’s in the food supply business, said the supply chain is absolutely a nightmare right now, and that has required him to devote much more time to his business. Conrad said he wants to make sure he doesn’t shortchange his constituents with all the focus he’ll have to put on his business in the coming year and perhaps beyond. He said that was one major reason he chose not to run.
Conrad said that in his line of work, the last six to eight months have been extremely challenging.
“It’s been really, really hard,” he said. “I don’t think people know how hard it is to get things from point A to point B right now.”
But he makes it clear he could end up back in the political arena in the future.
“I am absolutely keeping the door open for another run for office,” he said.
Conrad was key in finding and bringing in Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega – who completely turned around the department after a massive animal mistreatment scandal in 2015 under previous leadership.
“Jorge Ortega – I am very proud of him,” Conrad said.
The county’s new shelter just opened about a month ago.
Conrad has been the loyal opposition over the last year on the board that’s now dominated by Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston and a 7-to-2 Democratic majority.
“I will miss them, but I am not sure they will miss me,” joked the conservative Conrad, who has fought the majority on mask mandates, higher spending and other issues since the board went from a Republican majority board to a Democratic one.
For the first six years of his service, Conrad was part of a 5-to-4 Republican majority that called all the shots. Ever since new commissioners were sworn in early last December, however, his only Republican ally on the board has been Commissioner Alan Perdue.
“It’s certainly different,” Conrad said of serving in the minority.
Conrad had nothing but praise for fellow commissioners and said he will greatly miss serving with the Republicans and Democrats on the board alike. He said he certainly didn’t always agree with Alston and the other Democrats, but he thought that the board as a whole had been open and honest with each other and was constantly trying to run the county in the best way it could for the good of the people.
Conrad said he was proud of what he and the board had done over the last eight years.
“I didn’t embarrass my family name,” Conrad said.