The choice is yours: You can change Waynesboro on May 3

waynesboroWaynesboro leaders don’t want to do anything about the city’s dilapidated high school, or anything to bring jobs to the city, or fix our failing infrastructure.

You can do something to fix them: vote.

Seems too simple, doesn’t it? That Chris Graham feller, he acts like he has it all figured out. All we got to do is vote, and there will be a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, no, it won’t be that easy. Whether we end up spending $40 million or $75 million on a fix for the high school, we’ve got to be creative with the financing, and then sensible enough to prudently pay the bills.

And the getting jobs thing: definitely not easy. Every community in the country, and for that matter, the world, is competing to land manufacturing, technology and commerce jobs, but there’s no reason Waynesboro shouldn’t be as competitive as anybody else, with our access to transportation networks and proximity to major universities.

The infrastructure issue isn’t easy or sexy, and unlike schools and jobs, there’s no real measurable return on investment that anybody can point to, other than the satisfaction of living in a community that isn’t falling down around us all.

So, Chris, what you’re telling us is, it won’t be that easy, despite what you’re also trying to tell us about how we can change it all simply by voting.

Yes on both counts.

We can change Waynesboro by voting in tomorrow’s election, despite the change that we vote for not being something that will be easily achieved thereafter.

Here’s the thing about change: you have to be willing to acknowledge that change is in order before it can come about.

Insert your favorite saying about this kind of thing here, right? One of mine is the classic definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

If we elect as our leaders guys who think the solution to what ails Waynesboro is hiring the teens to clean up the riverbanks, then we have no right to complain about a City Council that turns its back on the important stuff.

Another favorite saying of mine relative to this topic is, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.

When it comes to jobs, it’s hard to say we’re getting better. The current leadership has been in power for the past eight years, and what can those guys point to in terms of jobs? They spent $2 million in 2010 to bring 41 $18-an-hour jobs to Waynesboro; that’s it.

Whatever other opportunities may have been coming our way, our leaders ran off or just pissed away with their lack of attention to things like the failing infrastructure and the dilapidated high school.

Funny how that works out, isn’t it? The focus of the power elites here has been on having the lowest common denominator tax rate, and it turns out that the decision-makers value things like your schools and the basics of life like water, sewer, roads, snow removal and the like just as much, if not more.

So we’re not getting better, which means we’re getting worse, and we’re borderline in terms of our community sanity because we keep electing the usual gang of do-nothings and expecting them to do something.

But you can do something about that: yes, vote.

In Ward A, Elzena Anderson is the clear choice. In Ward B, Jerry Campbell gets the nod with the expectation that he can grow into the job.

The At Large race is tougher, but also easier. There are two really good candidates in Nancy Dowdy, a former two-term member of the City Council, and Terry Short, a long-time member of the Waynesboro Planning Commission.

If you’re voting for change, and if you’ve gotten this far, you’re the choir, and I’m the preacher, you may end up leaning to Dowdy, whose terms on City Council marked the briefest of turns toward progressive public policy in this city’s recent history.

Short, to his credit, is selling himself to voters as the candidate who is best equipped to represent progressive policy interests within the current political environment, and most likely to be able to win some concessions on important points from the conservative leaders on City Council.

I would agree with Short on that point. His years as a district planning manager at the Virginia Department of Transportation have him uniquely qualified in the realm of negotiations on key sticking points.

Ideally, we’d be able to vote for Short and Dowdy and have them both representing our interests on City Council for the next four years, but that option isn’t available to us.

And so it is that I give the nod in the At Large race, then, by the slimmest of margins, to Dowdy, because I think Dowdy, working with Anderson and Campbell, can begin the needed work to get us out of the rut that we’ve been in dating back to the late 1980s, when the erosion of the manufacturing base that had made Waynesboro the economic jewel of the western part of Virginia began to become pronounced.

Solving our myriad problems has not proven to be easy at all, but a big reason for that is we have continually empowered as our leaders men who refuse to acknowledge the reality of our situation.

You can change that on May 3. The choice is yours.

Column by Chris Graham


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