Story by Chris Graham
The people have spoken – 20 percent of them, anyway.
The one-in-fives who did the speaking for Staunton and Waynesboro in this week’s city-council elections in the twin cities stated loudly and clearly that they are very much in favor of the status quo.
“I think that’s exactly what they said,” said Staunton City Councilman Dickie Bell, who led the parade of Queen City incumbents retaining their seats on the governing body in Tuesday’s balloting.
Bell and council members Dave Metz and Rita Wilson and Vice Mayor Dick Robinson took the four seats open in the all-at-large elections – besting challengers Doug Manning and James Welsh, both of whom had made clear their opposition to several moves initiated by the sitting council, most notably the $21 million public-private project to renovate the Stonewall Jackson Hotel.
“The voters had the opportunity to make changes, certainly,” Bell told The Augusta Free Press. “But the feeling that I had throughout the campaign was that the majority of people in town are pleased with the direction that we’ve charted for the city, and they wanted to continue on that course.”
Voters in Waynesboro stayed the course as well – re-electing Mayor Chuck Ricketts and City Councilman Tom Reynolds and elevating Ward A Waynesboro School Board representative Tim Williams to the ward’s seat that is currently held by soon-to-be retiring Vice Mayor Jack Higgs.
“This indicates to me that the voters are satisfied with what I’m doing as a city councilman, and they’re willing to stick with me,” Reynolds told the AFP.
“I feel good about these results, because I think it means the voters are satisfied with what has been taking place the past four years,” Reynolds said.
“My take on it is that the voters were saying that we’ve been doing a good job the past four years,” Metz said of his re-election to Staunton City Council.
“We still need to be cautious with how we approach things, of course. But I think what we heard yesterday is that the voters are happy with the direction that we’re headed in as a city,” Metz told the AFP.
“I think it shows that people are satisfied with the way things are going,” Wilson told the AFP.