Ocean City Today
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Shockley shoots for return to commissioners

Former office holder ready for another showdown with Ted Elder after 2014 defeat
By Brian Gilliland | Jan 25, 2018
Photo by: File photo Virgil Shockley

(Jan. 26, 2018) Fulfilling a promise he made immediately after learning he lost the 2014 election to Ted Elder, who he faced in 2006, 2010 and 2014, Virgil Shockley has filed to reclaim the District Four seat on the board of county commissioners he had held since 1998.

Shockley said he wanted to continue his track record of delivering results to his constituents and to restore a farmer to the ranks of the county commissioners. Worcester County’s two main industries are tourism and agriculture, and Shockley said it was important that those who are making the decisions have a real understanding of farming.

Currently on the board are a surveyor, newspaper publisher, a retired roads supervisor, an inventor and business owner, a bus contractor and businessperson, a builder and a real estate broker.

“I want to make it clear I don’t have a problem with any of the other commissioners, I’m only running for the District Four seat — I’m only running against Ted Elder,” Shockley said.

He said when he first sought office in 1998, he wanted three things for Snow Hill: a senior center, a recreation center and a new high school.

“I delivered that. I get things done. Along the way other things came up, like broadband — which I know is the wave of the future,” he said.

Shockley said he wanted to call a meeting of all broadband service providers in the area and ask them where they are in their efforts to plug in the lower shore.

“It’s no longer a matter of infrastructure, because the fiber is in the ground. But it’s the lack of will to get it to the rest of the population,” he said.

Worcester County’s online efforts have long been stifled because of the “last mile” problem — providers don’t see enough economic benefit to connect county users to faster, more modern infrastructure.

Shockley said he was also focused on the next iteration of the county’s comprehensive plan, which includes a comprehensive rezoning. He said he voted against the last comprehensive plan based on 1,800 acres of agricultural land being rezoned into residential.

“Once it goes from agricultural land to residential, the land becomes more valuable and it’s not going back,” he said.

Those perspectives and ways of thinking are absent in conversations among the current board, he said.

And he’s been keeping track. Shockley arrived at the interview with a thick binder full of newspaper clippings, printouts of minutes from previous commissioner meetings, two years’ worth of Worcester’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports and other related documents. As he makes an observation or statement about the state of the county, he rifles through his documents to find supporting sources. Which, more often than not, he locates.

“I’m more frustrated by missed opportunities and knowing how much different it’d be if I were there,” he said.

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