Home Sam Hostetter on Waynesboro City Council: ‘I don’t have a vote anymore, I just have a voice’
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Sam Hostetter on Waynesboro City Council: ‘I don’t have a vote anymore, I just have a voice’

Crystal Graham
Sam Hostetter
Sam Hostetter, submitted

Waynesboro City Council member Sam Hostetter’s time on Council is almost over with his four-year term set to expire at the end of the year. Hostetter lost his re-election bid in the River City to Republican challenger Jim Wood.

Hostetter, an independent, felt that Waynesboro didn’t get a chance to really know the candidates leading up to the November election. There was no public forum, and the voting moved from May and at-large to November, and votes could only be cast from people who lived in the actual ward.

“We didn’t have an opportunity to compare our visions and what our priorities were,” Hostetter said. “And I think a lot of folks relied on the fact that there was one candidate from a political party, and they used that as shorthand for ‘okay, that’s what I’m going to support.’

“I’m not sure they understood, you know, what the issues were or how the change might impact where Waynesboro goes.”

In our interview with Hostetter, he expressed disappointment in the outcome of the election, which he lost by 17 votes.

Hostetter said before he began his term on Council in 2018, he attended Council meetings. He said incoming Council members, however, really never know what to expect.

“I knew to expect the big issues … setting the tax rates, working on capital projects and working toward capital projects that are identified,” he said. “The things I didn’t fully grasp were so many of the little things that happen all the time. Just the mechanics of okaying grants and expenditures, the little mechanical things about zoning.”

As far as what’s ahead for Waynesboro, Hostetter talked about some of the projects on the horizon.

“There’s going to be a lot of transformation downtown,” Hostetter said. “I’m proud of what’s coming with the museum. Obviously, the state will have the final say on some of that. But again, that is moving at a pace that I don’t anticipate there’ll be any change there.”

But with growth, there are often some challenges.

“That’s (the museum) going to be disruptive to downtown. There’s going to be challenges with parking and traffic flow, for example,” Hostetter said.

And other improvements may cause short-term disruptions and require planning by city leadership: the South River Preserve, for example, which will change the face of the riverfront, and with construction, parking to access the greenway could be more limited.

He said another thing that Waynesboro will be facing is reassessments and setting the tax rate at a number that allows the city to get done what it needs to.

While he won’t have a vote on Council, Hostetter said he still plans to make sure his opinions on issues are heard and pledges to stay involved in what happens in the city.

“I don’t have a vote anymore,” he said. “I just have a voice.”

Hostetter isn’t sure about another run for City Council in the future.

“I pledged to myself and my family that I would have a three-month moratorium before stepping into anything else,” he said. “Let the dust settle, see what time I have, see what is going on and then make some decisions about, you know, what I want to do going forward … if I want to get involved in some other way or if I just want to reinforce my work with the Boy Scouts and my church and things that I have not been able to do because of my Council requirements.

“I’m still in that three-month period. I’m not going to commit to anything or rule anything out.”

While his time in day-to-day management and governance of a small city is over for now, he is still very optimistic for the future of Waynesboro.

“There are exciting things happening,” he said. “I will be saddened that I won’t be part of the committee that gets to cut ribbons on some of these projects, because it’s going to be great.”

He said the question is how does the city embrace the changes ahead and utilize them to make the community even better.

“I think a lot of the big pieces are in place, and the ball is rolling,” Hostetter said. “I don’t see the new Council changing course … I hope they fully embrace the potential.”

On Monday, Dec. 12, Hostetter and fellow Council member Bobby Henderson were honored by their colleagues at their last regular meeting.

“I obviously knew it was the last meeting, but did not know they had resolutions prepared,” Hostetter said. “So it’s very nice to be acknowledged by my colleagues. Even if we disagreed on things, we were a pretty effective Council, I think.

“My takeaway was that we were friends and respected each other, and I think we accomplished a lot. And they wanted to acknowledge that, and I certainly shared that feeling toward Bobby and was glad to sign his resolution and thank him for his service as well.”

Henderson said that Hostetter is a thoughtful man who thinks everything through and was an asset to Council and the city as a whole.

“Sam and I got elected at the same time. And when we were sitting on the stage at the Wayne, we had the same vision for moving the city forward, and I really enjoyed working with Sam,” said Henderson. “I hope he considers coming back on in the future, and we can get the band back together.”

Related story

Goodbye for now: Henderson plans return to Waynesboro City Council in 2024

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.

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