New District 5 Supervisor ready to get started in Rockingham County

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MCGAHEYSVILLE, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors has a new member. Joel Hensley was appointed to the District 5 seat late last week, and he is taking over for long-time Supervisor Mike Breeden.

The County announced last month that Breeden would be retiring prior to the end of his term, he had represented District 5, which includes the Elkton and McGaheysville area, for over 20 years. Hensley was already running unopposed in the upcoming November Election for Breeden’s seat.

Hensley spoke with WHSV and said that one of his top priorities and reasons for running is to preserve the rural nature of Rockingham County.

“After I moved back to Rockingham County a few years ago I noticed that we were following in the same patterns and footsteps as many other former rural counties and it sort of made me sick to my stomach because I know what comes next. We have to be proactive and purposeful if we want to maintain that which makes us unique here, what we have here is rare and we don’t need to be like other places,” said Hensley.

Hensley said that when he has talked with people in District 5 over the last year they have shared his concerns.

“That seems to be the number one thing on people’s minds is they feel as though they’re losing their county and they’re losing the rural character and nature of the county. So that’s a big concern for a lot of people that I think we need to take seriously,” he said. “I think we should have further discussion on what we want our pace of growth to be and what we want to look like in the next 30 years.”

Hensley also hopes to bring a focus on fiscal responsibility to the board.

“One agenda overall would be to re-prioritize our spending. I want to focus more on core services and get back to the basics if you will. I want to see what the needs of the public schools are before committing the county to any other projects,” he said.

Another idea Hensley hopes to implement is the elimination of the Heavy Machinery Tax on farmers in the county.

“It’s a drop in the bucket in the overall general fund revenue but it’s a heavy burden to farmers themselves and I don’t think any other localities have that tax so it puts our farmers at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

Hensley said that he plans to reach out to his new colleagues on the board about agenda items that are coming up to help him get further acclimated in his new role. He said he has also talked with Mike Breeden, who recommended his colleagues on the board appoint Hensley as his replacement.

“I have spoken with Supervisor Breeden, we share a lot of the same views and our conversations were very good and very reaffirming for me. We intend to keep an open dialogue, he can call upon me if he needs to and he said I can call on him if I ever have a question,” said Hensley.

Hensley said that he is excited to serve his community on the board.

“This area has been really good to me, the people here have been really good to me, and I’m just looking forward to having the opportunity to pay it forward and serve the people in the area that I love,” he said.