The decision of Prince William County Supervisor Loring B. "Ben" Thompson (R-Brentsville) to not run for a third term opens the way for a substantial change in direction on the Board of County Supervisors in the fall, when all eight seats are up for election.
In addition to Thompson, Supervisor Ruth T. Griggs (R-Occoquan) announced that she will not run for reelection. On the board, Griggs usually calls for more controls on growth, while Thompson is a strong advocate of property rights. Their replacements could determine the future direction of the board.
Thompson said he is not worried. "There will be some new faces on the board, that's for sure," Thompson said. "The election will determine the philosophy."
Supervisor John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco), a strong supporter of more growth in the county, has not formally filed for reelection, although he filed papers this year that allow him to continue to raise money until he makes a decision.
Candidates can file until April 11, the deadline for applying to run as a member of a political party. Candidates running as independents may announce as late as June 10, assistant registrar Claudia Gardner said.
All other incumbents, including Chairman Sean T. Connaughton (R-At Large) and Supervisors Hilda M. Barg (D-Woodbridge), Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries), Mary K. Hill (R-Coles) and Edgar S. Wilbourn III (R-Gainesville) have formally filed reelection papers with the Prince William County Voter Registration and Electoral Board, according to board records.
As of Tuesday, no one had filed to run for Thompson's Brentsville seat.
There are already five declared candidates to fill Griggs's spot in the Occoquan District: Democrat John S. Gray and Republicans Michael C. May, Corey Alan Stewart and Stephen R. Wassenberg. Robert K. McBride is running as an independent.
Two incumbents already face declared challengers. Hill has two Republican opponents in the Coles District: Thomas F. Burrell III and Martin E. Nohe. Democrat Gary C. Friedman plans to challenge Wilbourn in the Gainesville District.
"The bottom line is that it's going to be a very interesting year in Prince William," Connaughton said.
"I enjoy working with [Griggs and Thompson] because they both were very principled," said Connaughton, who leads a group seeking to limit growth. "I personally want to see whoever replaces them approach the issues we're facing with an open mind and a desire to solve these problems, not simply looking to vote as a block."
Thompson, 78, said the prospect of reelection had little to do with his decision. He said he wants to spend more time with his family and wife, Betty.
"I've been there eight years, and there are some other things I want to do," Thompson said. "I think the time is right to step down."
A Navy veteran and retired federal employee, Thompson was active in the effort to restore the Brentsville Courthouse historic area on the board. He was first elected in 1995.