Strauss won't seek re-election next year

November 04, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY


Because of health concerns of immediate family members, Berkeley County Commissioner Howard Strauss told The Herald-Mail on Thursday that he will not seek re-election next year or run for another office.

Caring for his family members, who live in Florida, must be his first priority, Strauss said.

"There's a certain work ethic I've been dedicated to in the last five years. If I'm unable to provide that whole level (of dedication), I have a responsibility not to serve," Strauss said. "I cannot be coming and going."

Strauss said he wanted to make his announcement now so prospective candidates have time to prepare. Filing to run for office begins in January 2006, with a primary election in May and the general election in November.


Strauss, 51, said he expects to serve the remainder of his term through the end of the next year, unless his family members' health concerns require him to be with them on a full-time basis.

He asked not to publicly discuss his family.

He said he has not ruled out running for office again at some point in the future.

Asked to discuss his accomplishments, Strauss first named his role in overseeing the purchase and restoration of the former Blue Ridge Outlet Center. The three buildings that were woolen mills around the turn of the 20th century are being turned into county offices. The assessor's office, tax office, County Commission offices, planning and engineering departments, and others have opened in the Dunn Building.

Construction is under way to turn the Berkeley Building into a comprehensive judicial center, while work is just beginning to relocate the county clerk's offices to the Crawford Building.

Other accomplishments include helping to implement ordinances dealing with barking dogs, all-terrain vehicles and a height ordinance related to the airport, and helping to form subdivision regulations and a hazard mitigation plan that has enabled the county to buy private property in flood-prone areas, he said.

He also was instrumental in boosting technology advances in the county. Four years ago, only one county office had an Internet connection. Today, Strauss works from a wireless laptop, county offices have high-speed Internet connections, and an in-depth Web site for the county has been created.

A home confinement plan was created during his tenure, as well as a farmland protection program. Changes were made to the county's magisterial districts to ensure they were equal in population with reference to elections, the first two phases of a 911 wireless communications study have been done and employees have received pay raises.

As a member of the Berkeley County Development Authority, Strauss helped buy land for a business park on Tabler Station Road, and he serves as the chairman of Region 9 Planning and Development Council, a grant-writing public agency.

Strauss served on the commission for one year in 1992 after he was appointed to fill out an unexpired term. He was elected to serve in 1996, but the state Supreme Court awarded the seat to another person because of residency requirements.

He was elected again in 2000 and sworn into office for his current term on Jan. 2, 2001.

He thanked those who have supported him over the years.

"What I'm going to miss most is the people, the employees of the county, the taxpayers, the people I have worked for for the last five years," Strauss said.

County Commissioners serve six-year terms and run at-large, but only one per magisterial district can be elected. Commissioner Steve Teufel is from the Norborne District, while Commissioner Ron Collins is from the Shenandoah District.

Originally from Laurel, Md., Strauss moved to Berkeley County in 1981. Along with working full-time as a county commissioner, he works part-time as a property manager.

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