By Stefanie Jackson – Spencer Murray, chairman of the Northampton board of supervisors, announced Tuesday night that he will not run for re-election this November.
“While I will always support Northampton County, I plan to pursue the life I promised myself over 50 years ago when I started to work,” Murray said in a prepared statement.
He decided to make the announcement Tuesday so his fellow citizens would have time to consider seeking the office and getting on the ballot. Murray represents Northampton’s fourth voting district, which includes the town of Eastville.
Supervisor Robert Duer also is not seeking re-election. Supervisors John Coker and David Fauber began four-year terms in 2018 and are not up for re-election.
It’s possible that all but one of Northampton’s five supervisors will start 2020 on the board with two years of experience or less.
Supervisor Oliver Bennett is the exception. By the end of 2019 he will have 18 years of experience. He has served on the board from 1996 through 2003 and from 2010 to present.
Murray will leave with eight years as a supervisor under his belt. He served from 2008 through 2011 and returned for a second term in 2016 after attending to a prolonged illness in the family.
“I certainly did not accomplish everything I wanted,” Murray said in an interview with the Eastern Shore Post Wednesday, but until the end of 2019 he intends to remain focused on the board’s current initiatives.
“Largely, my first term was consumed with the new 2009 comprehensive plan that was adopted, but hopefully that plan will be revised by year end 2019, and a new zoning review and consolidation will follow shortly after that,” he said.
Since Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital relocated to Accomack two years ago, Murray has advocated for an urgent care facility in Northampton. It has not yet come to fruition, but Murray is confident that, “when financially feasible, Northampton should have a satellite emergency room to which our ambulances can transport.”
Northampton’s new courthouse and jail were built before Murray became a supervisor, but he was on the board that worked out of the former Northampton Middle School while the new administration building was under construction.
His second term has focused on “building an experienced county staff while holding taxes flat.”
Since his re-election, Murray has supported renovations in Eastville – the county seat, further development of existing Northampton businesses and the addition of new ones, including resorts, hotels, and restaurants, and construction of the Eastville Community Health Center.
He believes the working relationship between the county and its towns has improved, calling them “two halves of the same hinge” that “clearly need to work together if we are to move forward.”
Murray is part of the team from Northampton and Accomack that restructured the Eastern Shore’s short line railroad and is working with the Cape Charles town council on a new “economic engine” for the Cape Charles rail yard that will benefit both counties.
He will leave as supervisors face “a ton of new challenges,” including housing, wastewater treatment – particularly in Exmore and Nassawadox, funding improvements and maintenance at Northampton public schools, supporting working watermen, and “expanding revenues wherever we can.”
“I enjoyed very much the working relationship that I have today with my fellow supervisors who also love Northampton County and serve diligently,” he said.
Murray’s first advice for his future replacement is “listen and learn.” County supervisors must make decisions that impact people’s lives, and “hopefully, the impact, for the most part, is in a good direction.”
“The responsibilities are very, very serious and only serious-minded, dedicated people willing to spend the time and energy need to take it on,” he said.
“I remain very optimistic for Northampton and its future.”