Story by Chris Graham
Moving Waynesboro Forward – The Official Chris Graham for Waynesboro City Council Website
Listen to Chris Graham’s announcement speech.
After 12 years of reporting the news, I’m now making it.
“I have asked you all to be here today so that I can begin with you on a new journey. I want us all to join together in Moving Waynesboro Forward. My contribution to this effort will have me seeking the Ward B seat on Waynesboro City Council. I am announcing my intent to enter into the race for the open seat on the city council here today.”
That was how I began the announcement of my intentions to seek the Ward B seat on Waynesboro City Council. I made the announcement this morning at the Augusta Free Press Publishing office in Downtown Waynesboro.
The Ward B seat is currently held by mayor Tom Reynolds, who has represented the ward on the five-member council for eight years. Reynolds, whose term expires on June 30, announced on Jan. 18 that he will not be seeking a third term.
Two other candidates have already declared their intentions for the Ward B seat – former police officer and deputy sheriff Bruce Allen and retired political lobbyist David O’Brien.
I am the Generation X candidate in the race – a 1990 graduate of Wilson Memorial High School and a 1994 graduate of the University of Virginia who joined the staff at The News Virginian in 1995 and then moved into the business world in 2002 with the founding of Augusta Free Press Publishing.
“I have often told colleagues that I consider my years walking the halls of city hall my master’s and Ph.D. education in American government to complement my bachelor’s from UVa. – because it is the hours that I have spent in the city-council chambers and the commissioner of revenue office and the city-planning office and city manager’s office that taught me how government really works,” I said in my announcement speech today.
“And I want to emphasize that point here – because unlike a small but vocal faction here in town, I believe that our government here works and works well. And I believe that is due in large part to the efforts of those who have served on city council before me.
“I applauded both as a citizen and as a journalist when city leaders developed a vision for the future of Waynesboro in 2003 – in fact, I was in the room for the visioning sessions that led to the creation of that vision, and participated at the direction of members of the city council in some of the discussions therein. And I have applauded again as a citizen and as a journalist as council members have taken some crucial steps toward implementing policies toward bringing that vision into a reality.”
I am applying for the job of city-council member, I said today, “because I think critical progress has been made toward Moving Waynesboro Forward – even as critics of that progress have made the case for rolling back the successes that we are seeing in revitalizing our economic and community base. They don’t share in our vision for Moving Waynesboro Forward, and don’t see the potential that we see, that Waynesboro can be a First-Class City, that all we have to do is sit back and let people in corporate offices in farflung places come in and provide us with jobs and tax dollars.”
Invoking a lesson learned from my mother, Kathi Graham, who refused food stamps and other public welfare after her divorce because she didn’t want to accept handouts to make ends meet, I equated where I was back then to where we are in Waynesboro right now.
“I think my mom had it right back in the day. It’s not someone else’s responsibility to put food on our table. If we’re going to get anywhere in life, if we’re going to be successful in Moving Waynesboro Forward, we’re going to have to work hard at it.
“I pledge to you that I will do my part as we engage on this journey together to work hard at it – and I hope that you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work with me.”
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.