At the Thursday, Nov. 17 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, District 3 Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad – who’s stepping down from the board after serving eight years – received a whole lot of praise from his fellow commissioners.
Conrad, in return, gave out praise to county staff and commissioners when he spoke.
Commissioner Frankie Jones got a laugh from the audience when he said to Conrad, “I want to thank you for your wise counsel and your wisecracks as well.”
Conrad said he actually thought there was another November meeting until Jones informed him just before the November 17 meeting that it was his final one.
“I didn’t realize this was my last meeting until he told me,” Conrad said.
The only problem was that it wasn’t really Conrad’s last meeting: The board meets again in early December in a morning meeting with a swearing-in ceremony. At that meeting, departing commissioners traditionally say their goodbyes.
Conrad, who represents much of northwestern Guilford County – and the small towns of Oakridge, Stokesdale and Summerfield – has been a strong advocate for his constituents and is greatly respected by the people he serves.
Conrad was a key member of a majority of the Republican commissioners who, for nearly a decade, never raised property taxes while in control of the board.
Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy told Conrad, “I just wanted to thank you, Justin, for all your years of service.”
She said that, since she was an educator, she wasn’t sure how that relationship was going to go at first, but she added that it turned out very well.
“I am grateful we had the opportunity to build a collaborative relationship,” she said. “Best of luck to you.”
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston threw a little cold water on the lovefest that was about to continue on for a long time.
“Let me remind ya’ll that he will be back at our December meeting,” Alston said, noting that, there, Conrad will be officially honored for his contributions to Guilford County government.
Even though Conrad will get another shot at it in early December, he still offered some closing thoughts that night.
“I want to thank my family for allowing me the opportunity,” he said. “You all know this is a sacrifice.”
He thanked many others, including Guilford County staff.
“Top to bottom, Guilford County is so blessed by the men and women who support the citizens. They are great, great servants to our people.”
Conrad also said that people told him not to expect to make friends when he took the job as a commissioner.
“They said, ‘You’re not going there to make friends’ – but it’s OK if you do,” Conrad said. “And I feel like I’ve made some friends.”
Conrad and the other commissioners obviously had a lot more to say, and they’ll get the chance to say it in a few weeks at what will truly be Conrad’s last meeting as a county commissioner.
Unless, of course, he decides to run again in the future.