Home The pragmatist approach: Ted Lawhorn runs for Staunton City Council

The pragmatist approach: Ted Lawhorn runs for Staunton City Council

Rebecca Barnabi
Ted Lawhorn is running for Staunton City Council in November’s election. Photo courtesy of Ted Lawhorn.

Ted Lawhorn is one of six candidates running for three seats on Staunton City Council in November’s election.

He said city council needs a reset because of all the arguing among members. Businesses will not be interested in coming to the Queen City if they see so much disagreement in its local government.

“When they see discord — that is a turnoff right there for a business,” Lawhorn said. And businesses will go somewhere else.

Staunton can either progress or regress.

“We don’t want [regression],” Lawhorn said.

The city hiring a new city manager is on his list of goals if elected in November.

“That’s the no. 1 priority on my list,” he said. And he hopes that the current city council waits until January after new members join before making a hiring decision about a new city manager.

Lawhorn was born in Staunton and raised in Augusta County. A graduate of Riverheads High School, he said he and friends spent a lot of time in downtown Staunton on the weekends.

“It’s always been my town, and I love it,” Lawhorn said.

He retired nine years ago after selling commercial building supplies. He focuses on playing music now. He learned to play fiddle and guitar when he was six years old. He holds an associate’s degree in accounting from Blue Ridge Community College.

Lawhorn and his wife, Sarah, of 33 years have three children and six granddaughters. Two of their granddaughters live in the Queen City.

As a preteen, Lawhorn said his family frequently discussed politics at the dinner table. In high school, he was president of the debate club. “I always enjoyed a good argument,” he said.

He has never held a political office or run for political office until deciding in June to run for Staunton City Council. He said he was watching the news “and feeling very powerless.” What could he do about the divisiveness in American politics?

“I decided to run for office, because I don’t like what I’m seeing in town,” Lawhorn said. The divisiveness is invading small town politics, including Staunton. “I think if we let that divisiveness take hold in a small town, we will never be able to come back out of this malaise that I think we’re in,” he said.

Lawhorn said he believes that all residents of Staunton should feel comfortable and safe at home in Staunton “no matter who” they are or what their political beliefs. Staunton residents need a city council that is willing to listen to its needs and concerns.

“We’ve got a wonderful city,” and Lawhorn does not want Staunton residents to lose that.

If elected, Lawhorn’s goals also include ensuring further progress at Staunton Crossing, better maintenance of the train station, supporting funding of police and schools, and helping local businesses.

Most of all, Lawhorn hopes to bring a centered, pragmatic voice to council, improve relations between council members and provide residents with more transparency and accessibility.

“I thin that every citizen of Staunton should feel that they can contact a council member and discuss their problems or ideas with a council member, and I think that council should respond to that,” he said. Members of city council have a duty to residents to be accessible and transparent, and provide answers to questions.

The city needs an operating council to obtain goals.

“Hopefully, what this election can be is a reset for city council, and a chance for them all to drop these petty differences and really get together and have a set that shows everybody that they’re a viable governmental entity, that they can work, that they can accomplish something, that they can work for some common goals,” Lawhorn said it is up to city council to take care of Staunton.

Lawhorn would also like to build bicycle trails in the city, and more parks, particularly on the west side of the city.

“We have so many great things [such as Gypsy Hill Park],” Lawhorn said, but the city could have more great assets. For example, tourism could drive traffic from northern Virginia to the Queen City via Amtrak. “Why aren’t 50 couples a weekend getting off a train to walk over to one of the hotels [in downtown Staunton]?”

City council should find well thought out solutions to help local businesses with any issues.

“I believe that we should do everything we can to support our local businesses,” he said.

Lawhorn said that local government does not have to be political.

“I hope to win, and I think I will win,” he said.

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.