CENTREVILLE — Recently elected Centreville Town Councilman Josh Shonts plans to resign his position in mid-June on the heels of business and personal losses he said are forcing him to relocate. Shonts said he would continue to work with fellow Council members Tim McCluskey and Jeff Morgan to complete the budget process, and he wants formally introduce an amendment to the town charter to create a retroactive two-term limit.
“Term limits are important to keep new faces and new ideas running. The same people year after year get you the same results year after year,” Shonts said. He also wants to explore land sale of town property and said he does not believe the town should be a landlord or possess unnecessary properties.
In an interview, Shonts said it was of utmost importance to him to see the budget finalized and to give the town as much notice as possible for them to fill the vacancy created by his resignation. According to the town charter a special election should be held no less than 60 days and no more than 90 days following a vacancy where the term left is longer than six months. Shonts’ term was to run until October 2022.
Shonts said he joined the Council because he thought he could make a positive difference.
“I wanted answers on the road project. I wanted to encourage new businesses to come to Town as we try to rebuild,” Shonts wrote in a letter addressed to his fellow council members and Centreville residents that he shared with newspaper. “I was not going to be the one that complained and did nothing. I chose to take on the scrutiny of nay-sayers, internet tough guys and the back door deals. I fought for what I believed in and tried to bring a new voice.”
In recent weeks, Shonts said he had been the target of several personal attacks for his separation from Smoke, Rattle and Roll and Josh’s Steak and Chop House. The separation between Shonts and his partner was mutual, he said, but it wasn’t easy and neither was it planned. Although it wasn’t entirely amicable and not what Shonts desired, he agreed it was the best move.
The restaurant industry, like many other businesses, took a hard hit from the coronavirus, and theirs was no exception, said Shonts. Just weeks ago, he signed for a Payroll Protection Program grant to help employees.
Shonts denied allegations that he is leaving the business stranded financially. He said he is still a guarantor and responsible for part of those obligations. He is hurt that his volunteer efforts and the work he has poured into the business for the past five years are now being cast aside, he said.
“If everyone that had something negative to say spent money in the restaurant, we’d be printing money,” Shonts quipped, trying to lighten the situation.
Thanking everyone that has tried to make a positive impact on the town, Shonts encouraged all residents to vote and attend meetings.
“You all have a voice, but voicing opinions without having the facts will not push the ball forward. Get involved, join a committee, send in public comment, volunteer ... anything besides nothing,” he said.
Shonts noted An Optical Galleria generously paid for the streaming of recent meetings, but funding is limited. He wants to encourage voters and the Council to find a way to continue funding this “amazing way to communicate.”
Legally, Shonts remains a Centreville resident. While his house is on the market, Shonts is staying with family in Michigan and said he plans to be available remotely.
Council Vice President Tim McCluskey said he could not comment as he had not seen the letter. Council President Jeff Morgan could not be reached for comment.