Home He’s back: Bobby Henderson eyes at-large seat on Waynesboro City Council in November
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He’s back: Bobby Henderson eyes at-large seat on Waynesboro City Council in November

bobby henderson
Bobby Henderson, submitted

When Bobby Henderson decided not to run for re-election to Waynesboro City Council in 2022, he told us he’d be back. True to his word, Henderson has announced he is seeking the at-large seat in November’s election.

Terry Short Jr., who currently is elected to the at-large seat, is vacating the at-large seat to run for the Ward B seat instead.

Henderson, a U.S. Army veteran, moved to Waynesboro in 2012.

Demands from his full-time job with a fire investigation company forced him to step away from council in 2022 after one term, but with the growing pains of an expansion now behind him, he’s ready to dig back into city politics.

His biggest reason for his return to politics, he said, is that he doesn’t think Waynesboro is “moving the way we should be moving.”

Henderson said he is frustrated with the city deferring pay raises to employees for six or seven months and with the city not getting more input from city residents about the budget.

Henderson thinks the city manager should be able to present his budget to adequately fund what is needed for the city, and then give the citizens a chance to weigh in, before setting an arbitrary tax rate.

It’s unfair, he said, for the current council to tell the city manager, for example, not to bring them anything over 77 cents, burdening him to come up with the cuts to make that happen, or else.

“If the city manager doesn’t do what council says, you know, he’s always in fear of losing his job. The city manager shouldn’t fear losing his job for doing his job.”

Among the things that he still feels need to be done are pay raises and staffing increases at the Sheriff’s Office, enhance courthouse security, build the West End Fire Station and work to begin the next phase of construction on the high school. He said the final phase of renovations to the high school includes updating one wing in the school. The original project estimate was $20 million, but he’s sure it’s much more now that the work has been put on the backburner.

He’d also like to see some of the buildings downtown open for business. He pointed to the progress with three new boutiques in the downtown area, including one his wife opened, but said that not much has really happened in the last two years.

He said that voters are telling him they want recreational activities for young kids and to find a way to address homelessness, something he said, the city should be doing, working on a plan to understand what causes housing insecurity and what can be done to get those who struggle back on their feet and trained to go out in the workforce.

He’s perplexed that the current council is more focused on a low tax rate and not thinking about the future. The current council, he said, seems to brag that Waynesboro has one of the lowest tax rates for cities in the state.

“I don’t brag about that,” Henderson said. “I don’t think that’s where we should be. I think we should be having more services that we can provide. We can’t even staff up our police and fire departments. There are positions that are frozen, and they (city council) don’t even fund those. So we can’t provide basic services for citizens that are paying taxes, much less try to help those that are less fortunate and may not have a place to live.”

Henderson does applaud the current council on one thing: the contract with Northrop Grumman for a manufacturing and testing facility that will create more than 300 jobs over the next five years.

Outside of that, he said, he hasn’t seen much growth since he left.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History Waynesboro campus seems to be on hold due to a lack of state funding.

“I would like to see more council members lobbying in Richmond to get that funding for the museum done,” he said. “And that hasn’t happened yet. We were tracking to push forward nicely, and then there were some changes in Richmond, and for some reason, funding wasn’t approved this cycle. I think it’s gonna happen, it just might not be in this biannual budget that they’re working on now.”

If the funding isn’t part of the current budget when negotiations are finalized, he said, it will be 2026 before the funding could be reconsidered.

Henderson said he’s laying the groundwork now for his return to council, knocking on doors in all four wards to get signatures for his petition to run for the at-large seat. He’s hoping that he and Short can get the city moving forward again if they both get the support of Waynesboro voters.

“If I get back reelected, and Terry (Short) gets reelected, we can start the real hard work of trying to get the money for the high school expansion, but that’s something that is needed – not a want.”

He said he doesn’t want to see Jim Wood, the current vice mayor, become mayor. Two council members asked Wood to relinquish his vice mayor title after homophobic comments surfaced he made on a podcast. Short went a step further asking Wood to resign. Wood did neither, and the issue was never brought up again in a public meeting.

“I didn’t want to see him (Wood) become vice mayor, and I definitely don’t want to see him become mayor. I guess it all depends on who we can get on council right now. That will affect that.”

The November election: How it is shaping up

There are three seats on Waynesboro City Council that will be up for election in November.

  • The Ward A, Ward B and at-large seats are up for grabs. The last day to file as a candidate is Tuesday, June 18.
  • In Ward A, Mayor Lana Williams has announced she will not seek re-election.
  • In Ward B, Bruce Allen announced he will not seek re-election. Incumbent Terry Short Jr. has announced plans to run for this seat.
  • The at-large seat, held currently by Short, will be open, after Short announced he will run for Ward B instead. Former Ward C Councilor Bobby Henderson has announced plans to run for this seat.

The general election for Waynesboro City Council will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.