Following eight sessions in the Virginia state legislature, Delegate Gordon Helsel (R-Poquoson) has announced his retirement ahead of this year’s elections set for November. The news comes just as the House of Delegates adjourned sine die late Sunday morning, concluding the 2019 General Assembly session in Richmond.
“After eight years of being your Delegate representing the 91st District, I have decided not to run for reelection. I have contemplated my service to the House of Delegates and I am at peace with my decision,” Delegate Helsel said in a statement on his Facebook page.
“I want to thank the people of the 91st District for your support. Your counsel, advice on many issues, and phone calls of encouragement will forever be cherished by me,” he added. “I truly have been blessed to be able to serve my country, my state, and my city, and I pray that I leave the House of Delegates just a little better than I found it eight years ago.”
Helsel was a member of the Poquoson City Council from 1982 to 2011, serving as vice mayor from 1990 to 1994, and as mayor from 1996 until 2011. After the resignation of Delegate Tom Gear (R), Helsel filled the vacancy in the House after winning a special election on March 8, 2011.
“Gordon’s service to his country and to our Commonwealth started long before he ever stepped foot in the House Chamber,” said Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) in a statement. “As the recipient of a bronze star and two purple hearts for his time in combat in the Vietnam War, Gordon is the epitome of a true American hero.”
Cox said, “Gordon has dedicated his time in the House of Delegates to focusing on veteran issues, improving our school system, and protecting the watermen of the Eastern Shore.”
“It has truly been an honor to serve with Gordon in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2011,” the speaker added. “He will be greatly missed in the House of Delegates but I know he and his wife Joyce are looking forward to this next chapter in their life.”
Delegate Helsel is one of a few Republican legislators retiring this year: Delegate Riley Ingram (R-Hopewell), Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton), and State Senator Richard “Dick” Black (R-Fairfax)