news new staunton city council members focused on affordable housing in 2023
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New Staunton City Council members focused on affordable housing in 2023

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Staunton’s new City Council members are Michele Edwards, Alice Woods and Brad Arrowood.

Edwards received the most votes in Tuesday’s all-at-large election with 4,616, or 21.72 percent. Woods received 4,328 votes, or 20.36 percent. Arrowood was the third winner with 4,301 votes, or 20.24 percent.

Kristin Siegel, Fontella Brown-Bundy and Stephanie Mason were elected to Staunton School Board.

Siegel won with the most votes at 5,088 or 25.08 percent. Brown-Bundy’s 4,467 votes represent 22.02 percent of votes. Mason received 4,231 votes, or 20.86 percent.

All results are unofficial until confirmed by the Registrar’s Office after Election Day, including the addition of early voting and absentee ballot votes.

New City Council and School Board representatives take their seats in January 2023 and serve for four years.

“I’m really honored that Staunton has entrusted me with this,” Edwards said Tuesday night. She hopes to represent well on Council, and work with the other members of Council to collaborate on the issues talked about during this year’s campaign.

Edwards is committed to affordable housing, library funding and building a senior center in Staunton.

“All the things that citizens care about, and I think we can work on if we collaborate,” Edwards said.

Woods felt mixed emotions Tuesday night.

“I was actually surprised for the numbers I received,” she said.

She said she is thankful the voters believe in her.

“I am just so overwhelmed with gratitude,” Woods said.

Woods said now it is time for “the community to get to work.” First and foremost, in January, she will work on a solution with her fellow City Council members for affordable housing in the Queen City. She will also focus on connecting Pathways, formerly Leeds) to Staunton.

“Those are the things that I really want to concentrate on,” Woods said.

Arrowood said that all local candidates in this year’s election “ran a very good campaign.”

“It’s just a great night locally,” he said. He is excited to work on City Council with Edwards and Woods.

For the remainder of 2022, Arrowood will continue his work on the city’s Planning Commission, which he has been with for almost a decade.

“I’m looking forward to moving forward with Council,” he said.

In January, his focus will be on getting utility services for the “historically left behind” Uniontown, which he has worked with the Planning Commission on.

“I would also like to immediately start chasing grant funding for affordable housing,” Arrowood said.

Carl Brandt voted in Ward 1 on Tuesday afternoon and voted Ben Cline for Sixth Congressional District. He said he also voted for Cline the last time he ran for office. In Staunton, Jennifer Lewis received 55.66 percent of votes compared to Cline’s 44.34 percent.

“I’ve done a split ticket most of my life. I like the things the more median Republican Party is doing,” Brandt said. When it comes to fiscal responsibility, he thinks Republicans will keep the United States on track in 2023.

Brandt said he does not blame President Joe Biden for the supply chain issues and inflation that Americans have had to live with in 2022. “Both parties have affected that.”

For Staunton City Council, Brandt voted for Yvonne Wilson, Edwards and Ted Lawhorn. He said he heard each speak at the West End Business Alliance forum.

“They just resonated more with me,” he said. “They aligned more with what I was looking for in the city.”

However, Brandt said, most of this year’s candidates for council were good choices for the city.

As for Staunton School Board, Brandt only voted for John Wilson, because he was familiar with him as a candidate, particularly his focus on keeping parents involved in schools.

“I definitely resonated with that.”

When Brandt voted in Staunton’s Ward 1, almost 1,000 voters had turned out, and he said that is a good turnout for the ward.

“I wish more people would pay attention to midterms,” he said. He also wishes more voters would realize the importance of local elections. He said more candidate forums would assist voters in better knowing candidates and knowing what decisions to make on Election Day.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.