Lionel Graves had little to no intention of running for public office when he retired to Dawson County about eight years ago.
But after sitting through meetings of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners the last few years and witnessing what he describes as “unnecessary confrontation that benefits nobody,” Graves announced last Thursday he will seek the District 3 seat on the republican ticket on the board.
Mike Connor, who is the current commissioner for the district, has not said if he will seek re-election.
Graves, who has spent the last three and a half years serving on the Dawson County Planning Commission, was appointed to that board by Connor.
Originally from England, Graves moved to the area about eight years ago upon retirement from the oil industry and quickly became involved in local government.
“We went to appeal our taxes, and learned someone in their infinite wisdom decided they wanted to put a 1,544 slip marina immediately adjacent to the home we just built,” said Graves, who lives near War Hill Park. “So we started getting involved locally at that stage, and I think I’ve attended pretty much every commission meeting since then.”
Prior to moving to Dawson County, he also served on school boards but never in an elected public office.
Graves, 66, said his decision to seek office evolved from witnessing commission meetings that he said concentrated on “too much me and not enough we.”
“One of the things I have tried to do in this county is to be a unifier and not a divider. There seems to be an awful lot of confrontation going on,” Graves said. “It’s not healthy. It’s not achieving anything.”
He said even though commissioners are identified by district, they are elected countywide and represent their entire county.
“People shouldn’t be just fighting for what just happens in their own backyard. You need to consider everybody, and that’s really what persuaded me,” said Graves.
Tagging himself as a moderate person who can listen to arguments from all sides of an issue, Graves is the first to announce his intention to run for the seat.
“Everybody needs to be involved and the commissioners need to listen to everybody, but people need to come out and say what they think,” Graves said.
“It’s easy to say the commissioners need to listen. But people need to speak before you can hear.”