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After nearly 20 years of serving on the James City County Board of Supervisors, John McGlennon is vying to continue his longtime service and help shape the county’s vision for its future as the Roberts representative.
“I think it’s quite important for somebody who has the ability to relate some of the rationale for the decisions that have been made in the past to be there, but it would only make sense if that person also has the ability to look forward and understand what our new challenges would be, and I do think I offer that,” McGlennon said.
McGlennon, 66, moved to Williamsburg in 1974 to complete a yearlong visiting professorship at William & Mary. The position became permanent, McGlennon said, and he is now a full professor and chairman of the college’s Department of Government.
He moved to the Rolling Woods neighborhood in 1987 and said the area’s historical background and environmental beauty have kept him in James City County. McGlennon said he first decided to run for the Board of Supervisors in 1997 because the Republican candidate, Jeff Cattell, wanted to cut back on “a lot of the things that made this such a special place.”
“I decided that I wanted to run in order to protect those services and policies, and I was successful in the election,” McGlennon said.
Before he ran for the Board of Supervisors, McGlennon made two unsuccessful bids for the 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, once in 1982 and again in 1984. He said both races were “fantastic opportunities, personally and professionally” but said there was less face-to-face interaction with individual constituents than he would experience as a supervisor.
“In retrospect I really do think that service on the local level is very satisfying compared to what the members of Congress must feel these days,” McGlennon said. “You actually do have a need to take action on items and you can see the impact of what you’ve done on a daily basis.”
He said his accomplishments range from keeping the quality of county services high and conserving land to convincing the Virginia Department of Transportation to make modest improvements to the intersection of Jamestown and Route 199, rather than completely redesign the traffic pattern.
This year McGlennon faces challenger Heather Cordasco, the current vice chairwoman of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board, in the general election. If re-elected, McGlennon said his goals include maintaining the quality of life and unique character of James City County, addressing stormwater issues and following a strategic fiscal policy, even if that means making decisions sooner than the board may prefer.
“I worry sometimes that we take too long looking for the perfect answer,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to make a determination. You can’t just sit back and deny there’s a problem.”
McGlennon called himself an “honest broker” on the Board of Supervisors who asks questions and keeps the record accurate, even if that means correcting a resident during public comment.
“Part of informing the public is about letting them know when a statement is true or not,” McGlennon said.
He said he has enjoyed developing relationships with the residents of Grove and Kingsmill, who he now represents after redistricting moved him from the Jamestown District to the Roberts District, but said he is gratified to know constituents who are no longer in his district miss his representation.
“Members of the board represent the entire county but have a special responsibility for their district,” McGlennon said. “I really do feel my role is partly advocating for those neighborhoods, making sure they have a voice and if they have problems or concerns there is someone they can turn to for help.”