Home Unfinished business: Terry Short Jr. hopeful for another term on Waynesboro City Council
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Unfinished business: Terry Short Jr. hopeful for another term on Waynesboro City Council

Terry Short Jr.

Terry Short Jr. has been knocking on doors and riding his bike around Waynesboro talking to residents about issues in the city and asking for their signature on his petition to register for a third term on city council.

First elected in 2016 to the at-large seat and re-elected in 2020, Short, 50, has previously served as vice mayor and mayor of the River City. He also served two terms on the planning commission adding up to 16 1/2 years of service to Waynesboro and its citizens.

This November, Short is narrowing his focus, choosing to vacate his at-large seat and run for the Ward B seat on council instead.

“The prospect of running a citywide campaign was fairly daunting,” Short said, in part due to a new role as chair of the Virginia Municipal League’s legislative committee and his day job with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In 2022, for the first time, elections were moved from May to November, and city residents could only vote for their own ward and the at-large seat. Previously, Waynesboro’s registered voters could choose a candidate in all four wards and the at-large seat.

Unfinished business

There are no term limits on Waynesboro City Council members, and Short said he feels like there is still unfinished business for him in the city.

“I feel really fortunate and grateful to have been a part of really cool and exciting things happening in the community, some of which I really want to see over the finish line, and we’re not there yet,” Short said. “I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity. It really is a privilege.”

Short has been spending his weekends talking to voters in the Tree Streets and beyond and riding his bike around town collecting signatures to get on the ballot in November.

He said that the people he has talked to have a number of issues on their mind: the fire department, staffing levels and compensation for city employees, housing affordability, high school improvements, the Virginia Museum of Natural History and more.

“I had an experience the other weekend where I got back to the house (Short lives on Chestnut Avenue) and Heather (his wife) said, ‘So, how did the signatures go?’ And I said, well I got 13. And she said, ‘you’ve been gone for three hours.’

“That’s just part of it. It’s one of the things that I enjoy, and it is the thing I think I get the most energy from. Folks have great questions about issues that are important to the city.”

Short said he believes in pragmatic, practical, metered investments in the city … something that he said others on council do not seem to always embrace. For example, Short said, there are staffing needs and capital projects that the city needs to do in the next five years. He said that despite this, the more conservative members on council held the tax rate for Waynesboro citizens to 77 cents in its most recent budget.

“If I get another chance to serve for another four years, I would try to navigate and thread the needle between a fragile community versus practical things you’d have to do to keep long-term cost exposure down,” he said.

Waynesboro City Council also faced an embarrassment when one of its recently elected members shared homophobic slurs on a podcast shared on social media.

Short was the only council member to ask Vice Mayor Jim Wood to resign after the controversy. Two other members suggested Wood give up his vice mayor role. Wood did neither, and the issue seemed to quietly go away in a matter of weeks.

Short said he stands by his statement asking Wood to resign.

Short said that he does sometimes agree and vote the same way on city matters with Wood, but he does not have a collaborative relationship with him.

“When it comes down to finances, planning, leadership, drive, that’s where we kind of go sideways,” Short said of Wood.

Housing insecurity

One issue that has come up at many meetings has been the request for a housing inspector to inspect low-income housing complexes.

Short said that city council plans to look at its comprehensive plan this summer. While many initiatives have been accomplished since the 2018 comp plan, “the chapter on housing, it just sort of sits there.”

Waynesboro isn’t alone in its residents demanding action on homelessness, housing insecurity, food insecurity and related issues surrounding its most vulnerable residents.

Short said he doesn’t have an easy solution to housing issues in the city. He said that council has provided additional funding for Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry, a cold-weather shelter that rotates between Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County. He said that council has also supported an expansion at Fairfax Hall. City Council has also met with the planning commission to look at zoning standards for single-family dwellings and doing cottage style housing hoping to reduce the entry cost into the housing market and provide more options for housing for city residents.

One area where Short feels the city could do better is through Community Development Block Grants.

He said he is advocating for the city to no longer accept checks for being an entitlement community arguing that the city would likely get more money from the grants which would support affordable housing and develop a master plan for some of the neighborhoods in the city. The city currently accepts the $180,000 check each year instead of going after the larger multi-million investments, Short said. He said that with only $180,000 and change, Waynesboro is not moving the needle like other entitlement communities including Newport News and Chesapeake. By accepting the check, Short said, you are not eligible for the CDBG funding which with a little work, is often far greater. The city, he said, has instead, supported the idea that “a little is better than none,” since there is no guarantee the city’s plan for a project would be funded.

A lasting impact

Short also said he loves to talk to residents about how they can get involved in projects and commissions in the city. Part of learning about the process of city government revolves around the residents knowing what is happening at meetings and work sessions.

“Beginning in August of 2026, every single planning commission, every single council meeting, every work session, will be available on YouTube,” he said. “That was my initiative. I pushed for that the moment I got into office, because it was crazy to me that the only people that could watch a meeting were those that could make it City Hall.”

Short said he’s proud that the work being done by members of council can impact and change lives.

“Sunset Park,” he said. “Rarely does someone ever get an opportunity to make an investment that long after I’m dead and gone, people will enjoy, and their families will enjoy. I cannot wait for people to get up there and experience the beauty of that park and go take a ride on the bike trails, or go walk in the woods. It’s really just remarkable.”

Short was also instrumental in getting funds to Waynesboro as part of the DuPont NRDAR settlement that was distributed because of the adverse effects to fish and wildlife due to mercury in the South River. When first announced, Waynesboro wasn’t in line to get any funding, and Short went to bat to get funding for Waynesboro.

“We went from being on the cusp of receiving zero dollars from the settlement to being one of the largest recipients with the South River Preserve project,” Short said.

He said he also wants to see the Natural History Museum’s Waynesboro campus get over the finish line; wants the high school’s next and final phase completed; continue to attract high-quality jobs and sustainable housing opportunities; and establish a capital infrastructure reserve.

He said the city currently has zero money set aside to contribute to the planning, design and construction of assets including bridges in the city.

“I hope folks will recognize that I’ve been consistent and will continue to be consistent,” Short said. “I try to bring a very well researched, thought out, data-driven context to city council.”

For more information on Short, visit his campaign website.

The November election: How it is shaping up

There are three seats on Waynesboro City Council that will be up for election in November.

  • The Ward A, Ward B and at-large seats are up for grabs. The last day to file as a candidate is Tuesday, June 18.
  • In Ward A, Mayor Lana Williams has announced she will not seek re-election.
  • In Ward B, Bruce Allen announced he will not seek re-election. Incumbent Terry Short Jr. has announced plans to run for this seat.
  • The at-large seat, held currently by Short, will be open, after Short announced he will run for Ward B instead. Former Ward C Councilor Bobby Henderson has announced plans to run for this seat.

The general election for Waynesboro City Council will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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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.