Home ‘Talk about the city we want:’ Brad Arrowood runs for Staunton City Council
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‘Talk about the city we want:’ Brad Arrowood runs for Staunton City Council

Rebecca Barnabi

Arrowood afpThree seats are open on Staunton City Council in the November election.

One of six candidates hoping for a seat is Brad Arrowood.

Arrowood grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the College of Charleston in South Carolina with a degree in history. During and after college, he took road trips visiting America’s national parks and found Staunton.

“It’s an intact town. You can live downtown, you can walk everywhere and it hasn’t been destroyed by the big box stores,” Arrowood said.

He moved to Staunton 15 years ago and lives with his two children who attend Staunton City Schools, a son entering second grade and a daughter entering sixth grade.

Nine years ago, he was appointed to Staunton’s planning commission and was also involved with Staunton Downtown Development Association’s design committee.

“It’s kind of fun having input into the look of downtown,” Arrowood said of the committee.

As chief operations officer of Habit for Humanity for three years, Arrowood is, of course, passionate about affordable housing in the Queen City.

“Having [affordable housing be] what I do during the day is great,” Arrowood said of Habitat.

For a few years, former council member Jim Harrington has encouraged Arrowood to run for city council.

“I’m not collecting commissions and boards. I don’t want to do anything that I don’t feel like I can be useful on,” Arrowood said. “There’s no point of pride in it for me, I just want to be directly involved.”

He said Staunton is at a turning point and residents need to decide what they want the city to be.

Arrowood is also passionate about funding for workforce housing, particularly with federal and state grants. The city could partner with private entities and also work with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission to make investments in areas of the city.

He supports fully funding Staunton City Schools and better communication between council and the school board.

“I would like for city council to have a less adversarial relationship with the school board,” Arrowood said. Both groups could find better ways to approach problems.

As a member of the city’s planning commission and part of SDDA and Habitat for Humanity, Arrowood has already worked with current members of city council. He said individuals do not always agree, but they can have a civil discussion.

“Things have, at times, it feels like they’ve gotten personal,” Arrowood said of discussion between current city council members.

If elected, he would also encourage transparency of government. The residents Habitat for Humanity helps often work overnight and are unable to attend council meetings.

“I think there are some areas that feel like they’ve been left behind,” he said.

Economic revitalization of the West End of Staunton is also on Arrowood’s list of priorities.

“We need to find traction on this. We need to stop just talking about this and decide what would actually benefit [the west end],” he said. Arrowood suggests dining and family-oriented options on the west end.

The Queen City walks a balancing act between preservation and progress, according to Arrowood. As part of SDDA’s design committee, he was part of the start and planning of Dine-Out Downtown, which helped local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arrowood supports efforts for workforce to live in Staunton.

“We can’t become some kind of boutique city,” he said, where some can only afford to work in Staunton, but not live in the city.

Arrowood said he is glad that this year’s Queen City Mischief and Magic will be held in person again finally in September.

“I love that Staunton has kind of become the festival city,” he said of the event which draws thousands from all over Virginia to downtown.

If elected, Arrowood, a single father, would also look into ways to expand after-school programs and increase capacity at existing programs. City services impact families every day.

“We all just have to talk about the city we want,” Arrowood said.

Election Day is Nov. 8, 2022. Early voting begins Sept. 23, 2022.

Rebecca Barnabi

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.