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Quiet subtext to 2024 Waynesboro elections: Not letting Jim Wood become the mayor

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Bobby Henderson, Waynesboro’s former mayor, who is running for the at-large seat on Waynesboro City Council in the 2024 election cycle, isn’t a fan of the city’s controversial vice mayor, Jim Wood.

“I didn’t want to see him become vice mayor, and I definitely don’t want to see him become mayor,” Henderson told AFP regional-news editor Crystal Graham in an interview conducted last week.

Wood won a tight race for the Ward D seat on City Council in the 2022 election cycle, defeating the incumbent, Sam Hostetter, by a scant 17 votes.

The election victory came just days after Wood used his now-defunct Facebook talk show to spread debunked conspiracy theories about the politically motivated hammer attack of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.

In the course of reporting on that story, it emerged that Wood had used his Fox News-styled Facebook show to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election and to indicate his support for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists, which a day after the attack he then tried to recast as “fake news” and “a complete set-up.”

Wood was installed by the MAGA-majority City Council as vice mayor by a 4-1 vote at the public body’s Jan. 3, 2023, reorganization meeting – the lone vote against coming from Terry Short, who, like Henderson, will be running for a City Council seat in the 2024 election cycle.

Six weeks later, Wood’s talk show would briefly become nationally known, after AFP reported on his use of a gay slur to refer to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, calling Buttigieg “ol’ Pete Buttplug” in the context of addressing the federal response to a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The talk-show slur came two days after Wood’s name appeared with others from Waynesboro City Council on a letter formally signed by Mayor Lana Williams addressed to Buttigieg asking the transportation secretary to give his backing for a federal grant for a project to connect Waynesboro to the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel.

Ward C Councilman Kenny Lee formally called on Wood to resign as vice mayor, and Short did that one better, publicly asking Wood to step down from his seat on City Council.

Wood survived the ensuing firestorm, and remains on the City Council as the vice mayor today.

Henderson views Wood as a roadblock to the City Council being able to get things done.

“I don’t see where he’s taken an opportunity to make big changes in the City of Waynesboro in a positive way,” Henderson said in the interview with AFP last week.

Short, in a separate interview with Crystal Graham that was conducted last week, said his opinion of Wood hasn’t changed since the controversy over the Buttigieg slur last year.

“I don’t think he talks to a lot of people. It’s a little bit of an echo chamber,” said Short, who is running for the Ward B seat on City Council in the 2024 election cycle. “I don’t think great representation happens when you’re just living in an echo chamber. You really do have to listen to a lot of perspectives.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].